7 DWP Universal Credit and benefits changes in 2024 you need to know about now

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A series of changes to benefits are coming into effect this year that will affect people's payments and eligibility. The benefits impacted including Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), ESA (Employment and Support Allowance), Attendance Allowance and tax credits.

Although there's been a General Election called for July 4 that will see a new Government formed only months after Rishi Sunak had pledged wide-ranging welfare reforms, a raft of benefit shifts are already in progress.

This includes alterations to Universal Credit earnings rules, a revised timetable for the end of legacy benefits as part of the Universal Credit rollout, and the end of Attendance Allowance in one part of the UK. In addition, a consultation on proposals to revamp PIP is continuing.


Here are all the main DWP benefit changes in 2024 that you need to know about:

Benefit payment rises

Last year's Autumn Statement confirmed that DWP and HMRC benefits would rise by 6.7 per cent from this April, in line with inflation levels last September, while the State Pension is going up 8.5 per cent in accordance with the triple lock system which dictated that earnings growth be used as the basis for the increase.

Those on benefits paid every four weeks, such as PIP, Disability Living Allowance, Carer's Allowance, Child Benefit, State Pension and Pension Credit, will have seen the new amounts fully applied from May 6. However, people claiming Universal Credit, who are paid on the same date every calendar month, only began to see the increase from May 14 as they need a full assessment period beginning on or after the rise kicked in on April 8.

Those whose one-month assessment period started before April 8 or after April 26 won't see the hike in payments until June. Others will get the higher amounts in May. Friday, May 24, saw a host of claimants get the increase as payments were brought forward from May 25, 26 and 27 due to the Spring Bank Holiday weekend.

This week will see this month's final set of increases in payments due on dates between May 28 and 31. This will be for people whose assessment periods run from April 22 to May 21, April 23 to May 22, April 24 to May 23 or April 25 to May 26. Those whose assessment periods started later in Apil will see the increase in their June payments.

Administrative Earnings Threshold changes

The Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET) for Universal Credit has been raised, meaning if your wages fall below it, you'll need to increase your hours, find a second job, or move to a better-paid role. The AET now stands at £892 a month for a single person and a combined £1,437 for couples.

These are the equivalent of working 18 hours a week at the National Living Wage, a rise from the 15 hours expected previously. Around 180,000 claimants who are deemed 'fit for work' will be impacted by this rise and moved into an intensive work search group where they'll need to meet jobcentre staff and discuss how to reach the new threshold.

Failure to hit the new wage levels could result in sanctions, including the reduction or termination of benefits.

Combined with previous increases this means 400,000 more claimants will get more intensive support from jobcentre work coaches. The AET had only recently gone up to £743 for individuals and £1,189 for couples on April 1, so this marks the second increase in just over a month. Individuals whose pay meets or exceeds the new levels are not required to take any action to boost their wages.

Managed migration onto Universal Credit

The Department for Work and Pensions is stepping up its Managed Migration plan, with an increasing number of legacy benefit claimants set to receive notices to transition to Universal Credit in the upcoming months.

Earlier this year, the DWP confirmed a change in its initial plans, moving the completion date forward for people claiming ESA, either on its own or with Housing Benefit, by four years from 2028/2029 to 2024/2025. At the moment, the DWP is only targeting those claiming Tax Credits. From June, it will begin sending migration notices to households claiming Housing Benefit.

In July, those claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) coupled with Child Tax Credits will receive their notices, with Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) claimants getting theirs in September. Once a migration notice is received, claimants have a three-month window to submit their Universal Credit claim, failing which their benefits will be discontinued.

The DWP has also separately confirmed that regulations give an exact date for blocking any further tax credits claims from April 2025, so that the system can be closed down. It has issued guidance to staff to prevent any new claims or renewals of Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit.

PIP changes consultation

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, announced significant overhauls to the disability benefit PIP, or Personal Independence Payment, in a speech on radical welfare reforms. Following this, the DWP set in motion a consultation laying out the proposed changes.

One of the most contentious suggestions was to replace PIP's regular monthly payments of up to £737 with vouchers or grants for treatment or equipment. Another suggestion was the introduction of a catalogue scheme, offering people an approved list of items such as appliances and disability aids that claimants could select at "reduced or no cost". A third proposal was to alter the eligibility criteria from being based on how a person's condition impacts their daily life to being determined directly by the condition itself.

The consultation period lasts 12 weeks in total, ending on July 23. But in the meantime, there are no changes to the way PIP is currently being delivered.

Mims Davies, DWP Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, recently confirmed: "There will be no immediate changes to PIP, or to health assessments. All scheduled PIP assessments and payments will proceed as normal, and claimants should continue to engage as usual and provide any necessary information or updates regarding their circumstances.

"We encourage everyone to respond to the consultation which can be found here so that we are able to hear from as many disabled people, people with health conditions, their representatives, and local stakeholders as possible on these important issues."

Benefit payment date changes

There will be some alterations to the payment dates for benefits in the upcoming months due to extended holiday weekends. Benefits are not deposited into accounts on a bank holiday, so if your payment is due at any of those times, you should receive your money earlier.

This adjustment is made automatically by the DWP, so you don't need to take any action to get your cash. The Spring Bank Holiday on Monday, May 27 means you should have had your payments on the preceding Friday, May 24.

Following this, the subsequent bank holiday is on Monday, August 26. When that time arrives, your benefit payment will be made on Friday, August 23 instead. The last bank holidays of the year will be at Christmas, on December 25 and 26. The exact rearranged payment dates have yet to be confirmed, but are likely to be made on the last working day before these holidays - meaning Christmas Eve on Tuesday, December 24.

Attendance Allowance to be replaced (Scotland)

In Scotland, Attendance Allowance - a disability benefit for people of pension age - is being replaced. A new Pension Age Disability Payment is being introduced by Social Security Scotland instead. It is is not means-tested and is worth between £290 and £434 a month depending on the needs of the person who gets it

From October 21, 2024, Pension Age Disability Payment will be piloted in Argyll & Bute, Highland, Aberdeen City, Orkney and Shetland. The benefit will become available in 13 more local authority areas on March 24 next year before becoming available across Scotland by April 22.

Currently, over 150,000 people in Scotland get Attendance Allowance from the Department for Work and Pensions. They do not need to take any action as their awards will be automatically moved from the DWP to Social Security Scotland. This will happen in phases, with the first expected to be transferred in early 2025.

Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: "We developed Pension Age Disability Payment by listening to the people who would be applying for it and those who support them. We made changes including making it easier for an eligible person to nominate a third party representative, something people told us was important for many older people.

"The pilot phase will allow us to put our different approach into practice, learning and improving before the benefit is rolled out across Scotland. If you think you might be eligible for support right now, I encourage you to apply for Attendance Allowance from the Department for Work and Pensions.

"Anyone getting that benefit will automatically have their award transferred to Pension Age Disability Payment next year so there is no reason to wait."

Winter Fuel Payment being replaced (Scotland)

The DWP's Winter Fuel Payment for pensioners is being replaced in Scotland this year by a new Pension Age Winter Heating Payment (PAWHP). Payment rates will be £100, £150, £200 or £300, depending on age and circumstances.

It is expected to be paid out in November and December, following a similar timetable to Winter Fuel Payment. The Scottish Government estimates it will cost around £180 million to deliver the new PAWHP in the first year (2024/2025), providing support to over 1 million eligible people.

Guidance on GOV.Scot says: "The amount you will get paid depends on your household circumstances. The payment rates are £100, £150, £200 or £300 for individuals, resulting in a typical household of two generally receiving £200 or £300 in total.

"We therefore intend to maintain the current values of payments. That means, generally, that a typical household where the oldest person is under 80 will receive £200 and a household containing a person aged 80 or over will receive £300. The exception to this is where someone is in residential care."

As with Winter Fuel Payment, there will be a qualifying week when people's age and circumstances are looked at to see who is entitled to the cash. The Scottish Government said: "Eligible clients are identified and paid automatically if they meet the qualifying criteria during the qualifying week. We understand that a preference for a later qualifying week would reduce the number of people who ‘miss out’ on the payment in their first winter due to not meeting the age criteria.

"However, it is important that we maintain the qualifying week in September as this allows DWP to identify and provide Social Security Scotland with data on eligible clients and for Social Security Scotland to then determine the correct rate of payment for each person.

"This enables clients to be identified before the beginning of the winter period, ensuring that they are notified early and paid in early winter. The work involved and the scale of the task means that late September is the latest possible date for establishing entitlement in order to make payments in time."

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