Five big changes to Universal Credit will affect thousands this month

Five big changes to Universal Credit will affect thousands this month

11/03/2020

It’s November, and important changes are coming to the Universal Credit system which claimants should be aware of.

Universal Credit was introduced to replace a number of other benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Income Support.

This system has been vital for millions of Brits this year, with the coronavirus pandemic sparking financial chaos.

The upcoming changes will affect thousands of people in several different ways, reports Birmingham Live.

Here are five big changes coming, and who is affected by them.

1. Double earnings loophole closed

More than 85,000 Universal Credit claimants will see their payments rise this winter.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is finally addressing the “unfair” loophole which has cost people thousands of pounds.

Some workers who are paid twice a month have been flagged as “over-earning” in the DWP’s systems.

This has meant that their following month’s Universal Credit payment is reduced – even though in the majority of cases they aren’t over-earning.

Often it’s because their employer paid them on the first or last working day, or they received late or early payment.

From November 16, those who get paid twice a month by their employer will not be penalised in their following payment.

2. Transitional element up to £405 added

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Some Universal Claimants will see extra sums of £120, £285 or £405 added to their regular payout, if they are eligible.

Many will have already received the top-up last month, if they get their Universal Credit on or after that date.

But those whose Universal Credit is paid on a date before the eighth of the month will get it in November.

The boost is designed to help thousands of claimants whose payments were slashed when they switched to Universal Credit from Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit or Pension Credit – if they were also receiving a top-up allowance called Severe Disability Premium (SDP).

3. Minimum Income Floor suspension ends

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak suspended the Minimum Income Floor, an assumed level of income used to assess the amount of Universal Income a self-employed person would get, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

This number was based on what the DWP said an employed person would get in a similar situation, based on a 35 hour working week on the National Minimum Wage, minus tax and National Insurance.

The government dropped the rule during the pandemic so self-employed people could receive Universal Credit based on their actual earnings.

But the suspension of the MIF Limit is due to expire on November 13, warned Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis.

This means self-employed people may see their Universal Credit payments drop if they earn below the MIF.

4. New chance to get PIP and big back payment

  • Universal Credit list of reasons you may be sanctioned – and your payments stopped

The DWP are currently searching for benefits claimants who could be owed up to £13,000 in back payments after a court ruling.

If someone was wrongly assessed they could quality for Personal Independence Payment, or receive it at a higher rate.

This will include those on Universal Credit whose claim for PIP was turned down, or awarded it at an incorrect rate.

According to the website Benefits and Work, this “could mean potentially thousands more people are eligible for the daily living component of PIP or should be getting it at a higher rate”.

5. Cold Weather Payment scheme to begin

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The Cold Weather Payment scheme has started again from November 1.

This means you could get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as (or forecast to be) zero degrees celsius or below for seven consecutive days.

For each of these seven day periods you will get £25, between November 1 and March 31.

In order to quality you must be getting one of the following:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Support for Mortgage Interest

If you receive Universal Credit, you can’t be self-employed, and one of the following must also apply:

  • you have a health condition or disability and have limited capability for work (with or without work-related activity)
  • you have a child under five living with you

You will also be eligible if you have a disabled child, whether you are employed or not.

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