THOUSANDS of people claiming Universal Credit will be worse off this month.
Support introduced to help people affected by coronavirus is set to end leaving some with up to £62 less each week.
Some Universal Credit claimants will lose moneyCredit: Getty – Contributor
People who lost their job because of the pandemic were given a nine-month grace period during which benefits would not be capped.
This month the exemption ends for the first group of people who started claiming Universal Credit (UC) at the very start of the pandemic.
This first wave are largely families where someone has lost their job, been furloughed or had their hours cut, and their earnings fall below the threshold for exemption from the cap.
What’s the cap on Universal Credit?
How much Universal Credit you are entitled to depends on your individual circumstances, such as how many children you have, how much money you earn and how many people you live with.
But it’s also affected by the benefit cap, which limits the amount of welfare you can get.
The limits are:
- £1,916.67 a month for couples and single parents in London
- £1,666.67 a month for couples and single parents outside London
- £1,284.17 a month for single person with no children in London
- £1,116.67 a month for a single person with no children outside London.
There are some circumstance when the cap will not apply, including when in work and earning at least £604 a month (equivalent to working 16 hours a week at the ‘national living wage’) or if they receive some disability benefits.
It means some will lose as much as £62 a week of their benefits, leaving them worse off.
A leading charity has warned that more than 35,000 families could be plunged into poverty.
In normal times, benefits are usually capped, depending on claimants’ circumstances, though some people are not affected.
If someone’s circumstances change, the cap may no longer apply and claimants should always keep this up to date so they get what they are entitled to.
Universal Credit has been a lifeline for millions hit by the coronavirus crisis
There were 5.8million people claiming the benefit by November last year compared to 3million in March 2020.
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit Work
UNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.
By the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship system – it takes five weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85% of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to six months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. Since December 2018, we’ve been calling for the government to:
- Get paid faster: The government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop millions from being pushed into debt.
- Keep more of what you earn: The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4million families.
- Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85% of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
Further changes are also expected to affect how much people on Universal Credit get in the coming months.
UC claimants were handed an extra £20 a week because of coronavirus but that is set to end soon.
It was rolled out as a temporary measure for 12 months due to the pandemic, applying to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants.
It means that for a single Universal Credit claimant, who’s 25 or older, the standard allowance increased from £317.82 to £409.89 per month.
The standard allowance is set at different levels for those who are under 25 or for those who are in a couple.
But MPs have urged the government to carry on giving the extra money as the pandemic continues in to 2021.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is under pressure to cover the costs of this boost and other coronavirus schemes.
A single mum on Universal Credit has won a landmark court case to get childcare costs paid for upfront.
Sun columnist Nichola Salvato, 49, took the government to court after getting into £2,000 worth of debt trying to pay for childcare.
If you’re on Universal Credit and struggling to make your cash stretch until payday, you may be able to get extra discounts.