The UK Government has confirmed that Universal Credit will rise for millions of people across the UK this week.
Whether you will receive any extra money in your payments will depend on your circumstances – but here is what you will need to know.
The amendments which came into effect today include changes to the dreaded taper rate used to calculate the rate claimants are given.
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This rate has been lowered from 63p to 55p, which means that working claimants will get to keep more of their pay each week.
Other changes include the work allowance rising by £500 per year, as reported by the Mirror.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) believes around two million people who already claim Universal Credit will benefit from the changes.
A further 500,000 families who currently earn too much for Universal Credit will also become eligible to claim a small benefit payment.
Job Centre Universal Credit sign
(Image: BATH CHRONICLE)
How to check if your Universal Credit has gone up
Both of the above changes will affect “assessment periods” ending on or after today, and the first claimants to get higher payments will be from December 1.
If you were due to be paid before December 1, you won’t see any change until the following month but for new claims, the new taper rate and work allowance will apply.
To work out how much you will be paid on the new rates you can enter your details into the Turn2Us calculator.
You’ll need to answer as accurately as possible in order to get a correct figure.
The other way you could check if you’re due increased payments is by asking your work coach through your Universal Credit journal.
The Britannia House Job Centre in Ferensway, Hull
Claimants will also be notified how much Universal Credit they will be awarded in their usual monthly statement.
But again, depending on when you get paid, you may not notice any changes until your next assessment period.
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, under the new payment scheme, a single parent with a five-year-old child, who works 16-hours-per-week will be £8 a week better off.
Whereas a family of four, where one parent works full time and the other works 16-hours a week will have £31 more per week to spend.
How is Universal Credit calculated?
Universal Credit can be tricky to calculate, and payments can fluctuate month-to-month if your earnings change regularly.
The amount you are eligible for is made up of a standard allowance and any extra amounts that apply to you.
For example, if you have children, a disability or a health condition.
Your Universal Credit is then subject to deductions based on your savings and, if you are working, how much you earn.
DWP bosses look at your circumstances each month – known as your assessment period – to see how much you’re entitled to.
The government has hailed the Universal Credit changes, which were brought in one week earlier than planned.
Universal Credit claimants can get themselves a Christmas bonus
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “We want this to be a country that rewards hard work by helping the lowest income families keep more of their hard-earned cash.
“That’s why at the budget, I announced an effective tax cut for two million people worth over £2bn.
“These changes come into force today and will mean that with Christmas approaching, hard-working families will keep an extra £1,000 a year of what they earn.”
However, charities have warned that the changes don’t make up for the loss of the £20-a-week enhanced payments that were brought in during the Covid crisis.
Iain Porter, policy and partnerships manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “The reduction in the taper rate and increase in the work allowances is a significant and positive step.
“However, the measures implemented today do nothing to support many families who are currently seeking work, or who are unable to work, due to caring responsibilities, sickness or disability.
“The recent £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit has now reduced the main rate of out-of-work support to its lowest levels in real terms in 30 years.”
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