Are you affected by the Universal Credit cut?
If you currently claim Universal Credit you will be all too aware that the amount of money you receive has recently been reduced by £20 a week.
This reduction is due to the removal of a temporary £20 a week uplift introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s anticipated that this reduction will have a huge impact on millions of people. Over 5.8 million people currently claim Universal Credit in England, Scotland and Wales.
In this article we take a look at:
- Who is eligible for Universal Credit.
- How much money you will now receive from Universal Credit.
- Where to turn for help if you are struggling on Universal Credit.
Who is eligible for Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a benefit for people of working age, and is designed to support those who are either working but on a low income, or out of work.
Universal Credit was introduced in 2013 to replace – with a few exceptions – six previous benefits:
- Income support;
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance;
- Income-related employment and support allowance;
- Housing benefit;
- Child tax credit;
- Working tax credit.
To be eligible for Universal Credit you usually need to be aged between 18 and State Pension age, reside in the UK, and have £16,000 or less in savings.
If you live with a partner, you will need to make a joint application for Universal Credit, taking their financial circumstances into account.
You can check whether you are eligible for Universal Credit by using one of the benefit calculators recommended on Gov UK. These are:
If you are eligible for Universal Credit you can apply online on the Gov UK website or call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.
How much money you will now receive from Universal Credit
The amount of Universal Credit you receive is based on various factors including your age and your financial circumstances. The current standard rates per month are:
|A single person aged under 25||£257.33|
|A single person aged 25 or over||£324.84|
|A couple both aged under 25||£403.93 (per couple)|
|A couple with one or both aged 25 or over||£509.91 (per couple)|
However, you may also be eligible for additional allowances, for example if you have children or have a disability or health condition which prevents you from working. You may be able to claim a reduction in Council Tax when on Universal Credit, and get support to pay your rent.
If you are working, the amount of your Universal Credit payment will relate to your earnings and will decrease as you earn more. The amount you receive is usually calculated on the basis of a “minimum income floor”, which assumes you will be receiving at least minimum wage if you are working.
Where to turn for help if you are struggling on Universal Credit
The charity Citizens Advice has warned that up to a third of people on Universal Credit could end up in debt as the £20 uplift is being removed. The reduction in Universal Credit coincides not just with winter approaching, but also with rises in the prices of energy, fuel and groceries.
So, if you are struggling, what other options are available to you?
We’ll take a look at other benefits that may help you, and also where to turn for financial advice.
- Household Support Fund
In parallel with the removal of the £20 Universal Credit uplift, a new Household Support Fund has been launched. It aims to support vulnerable households with essential costs of living, particularly through the winter.
The fund is being managed by local councils, so if you are in urgent need of support you need to contact your local council to request help from the Household Support Fun
If you have recently lost your job after a period in work you should be able to claim the new-style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). This is worth £59.20 a week for under 25’s, and £74.70 a week if you are 25 or over. You can claim JSA for up to 6 months and will receive payment directly into your bank account every fortnight.
JSA is independent of your partner or spouse’s income, and you may be able to claim JSA as well as Universal Credit.
You can get free financial advice and guidance from a number of different organisations.
A good place to start is the Money Helper Service which is a free and impartial money advice service set up by the government and can point you to other sources of help such as a debt advisor. One of the services they offer is Breathing Space, which gives you temporary protection from any creditors you owe money to if you’re struggling with debts.
Other groups that may be able to help are:
We hope that this article has given you some useful information about Universal Credit, and some possible sources of help if you need it. Remember that Simple Fast Loans also offer online loans if you need a short term boost to your finances during these difficult times.
Do check back here soon for more financial and lifestyle tips from Simple Fast Loans.