DWP announces Universal Credit rule change from May 13 impacting 180,000 people

A Universal Credit shake-up next month will hit 180,000 people claiming benefits. The Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET) for Universal Credit will rise from 15 to 18 hours a week at the National Living Wage from May 13, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said: “I believe our welfare system is about far more than benefit payments; it is about changing lives for the better. That is why we’re bringing forward the next generation of welfare reforms.

"We’ve already overhauled the outdated benefit system by introducing Universal Credit, and now we are building a new welfare settlement for Britain – one where no one gets left behind." Health and Social Care Secretary, Victoria Atkins MP, has also spoken out.

READ MORE UK braced for first 'official' heatwave of year with temperatures in 'high 20s'

Ms Atkins said: “We are seeking the advice of those who understand the system best so we can break down these unnecessary barriers to work. Through tailored care and reasonable adjustments, we can build a healthier workforce for a healthier economy.”

The AET is the amount a person on Universal Credit can earn that affects what they are asked to agree to. Individuals earning below the AET in an assessment period must show they're actively looking for more, or better-paid work and also be available for work.

The AET for individuals is currently £743 per assessment period, but this will rise to £892 from next month. This is the equivalent of an individual earning National Living Wage for 18 hours a week. People earning below the AET are placed in the Intensive Work Search Group and are required to regularly meet with their work coach.

More than 180,000 Universal Credit recipients will be moved from the Light Touch group into the Intensive Work Search group as part of the changes, the DWP estimates.