Universal Credit is being ‘rolled out’ to new benefit claimants in High Peak from September, and by 2023 will affect more than one in six households.
I want you to know how it will affect you and help you find out how decisions about your life and work will affect your benefits.
Who will be Affected?
From September, people in High Peak making new claims or substantially changing their claim for most major benefits will instead have to claim Universal Credit. Benefits included are:
Tax Credits Income Support
Jobseekers Allowance Housing Benefit
Employment Support Allowance
People over pension age are not affected by Universal Credit, and it does not affect Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
In High Peak, around 500 people are currently on Universal Credit and a further 6,370 households who claim one of the benefits above will transfer onto Universal Credit over the next 5 years.
Will I be Better off or Worse off under Universal Credit?
Some people will be better off under Universal Credit, and some will lose out.
You can find out if you will gain or lose by checking the benefits you are currently due at www.entitledto.com
It takes about 15 minutes to complete but it’s worth it to check you are on the right benefits now.
If you then click the large ‘Universal Credit’ button on the page with your current entitlements, it will show what you will receive under Universal Credit.
Or you can make an appointment with Citizens Advice to go through your benefits and finances.
General Groups who are Better or Worse Off
Everyone’s circumstances are different so you will need to check for your own situation but IN GENERAL, the groups who will be better off are:
- People who work and claim Housing Benefit – will ‘only’ lose 63p of benefit for every pound they earn, compared to losing 80p under Housing Benefit.
- People who can only work a few hours a week could be able to claim UC as there are no minimum hours of work for putting in a claim (for Tax Credits you need to work 16 hours for single parents or over 60’s, 24 hours if you’re in a couple with children, or 30 hours if you’re under 60 and have no children.
People who are likely to find themselves worse off under Universal Credit are:
- Working people on tax credits who do not claim housing benefit, especially lone parents and couples where both parents work
- People with disabilities who receive Severe or Enhanced Disability Premium
- Working families with a disabled child
- Self-employed people on a low income
BUT if you are already on benefits or tax credits, when you are moved onto Universal Credit (which will happen over the next 4 years), even if your Universal Credit entitlement is less, you will continue to receive benefits at your present level until your circumstances change.
What Should I do Now?
Checking your own entitlement to benefits and the difference under Universal Credit will help you make decisions which are right for you:
- CHECK what benefits you are currently entitled to at entitledto.com
- Check how much your benefit will change under Universal Credit – click the ‘Universal Credit’ button next to your ‘Current System’ benefits to see what you will get
- IF you AREN’T claiming all the benefits you are due:
- If you will be worse off under Universal Credit, make sure you claim the other benefits you are entitled to NOW to protect your benefits at the current rate
- If you will be better off under Universal Credit, you may decide to wait until September to make a claim for Universal Credit instead. If you claim benefits now, you won’t be able to transfer onto Universal Credit for at least a year (maybe up to 4 years), unless your circumstances change.
- If you ARE claiming all the benefits you are due, you won’t move onto Universal Credit unless your circumstances change.
- If you are thinking about moving into work, or changing your hours, check if you would be better off on entitledto.com by clicking the button ‘How are your benefits affected by working different hours?’ (it’s below the list of your current benefits)
- If you would be better off in work under CURRENT benefits than under Universal Credit, you may decide to try and move into work BEFORE Universal Credit starts in September.
Changes which could Trigger a transfer onto Universal Credit
You may be moved from your current benefit onto Universal Credit if, after September, you:
- Start work or finish work without moving into a new job
- Start a business
- Move to a different Local Authority area and ask for support with your housing costs
- Move in with a partner, or you are part of a couple who separate
- Have a first child
- Are a lone parent not in work and your youngest child reaches age 5
- Are on disability benefits and fail a Work Capability Assessment
There are no hard and fast rules for triggering a move onto Universal Credit, but if you think you are being moved onto it unfairly, seek some advice.
Where can I get HELP?
- Our local Job Centres can give you advice about how to claim Universal Credit
- Citizens Advice can help you to work out what benefits you can claim, how Universal Credit will affect you, give you advice if you think your benefits claim is wrong, and give you advice on debts or hardship.
- If you are struggling with the benefits system and Citizens Advice cannot help, let me know if you’d like me to take up your case
Please let me know How Universal Credit Affects You
I chair the All-Party Group on Universal Credit in Parliament, trying to make sure that Universal Credit is working for as many people as possible.
Where things aren’t working, I work with other MPs to try and get the government to fix it.
So please let me know if you have problems with Universal Credit – or if it works well for you.
Please email me your experience at firstname.lastname@example.org