DWP makes five Universal Credit and benefits changes — what you need to know

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A raft of benefits changes have been made already this year, but more are set to be announced by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the coming months. With so many changes coming, claimants must take note as they could impact their payments and potentially eligibility.

Changes arriving this year include the scrapping of Attendance Allowance, a rise in Universal Credit payments, and the proposals plan for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), The Mirror reports. Here we highlight five major benefit changes coming this year.

Benefit payment rises

It was confirmed in the Autumn Statement last year that benefits would be rising by 6.7% this April. This includes benefits such as Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Carer's Allowance and Pension Credit. Most claimants saw their paymentas rise in the April pay, however, those claiming Universal Credit are yet to see it. Many will be seeing the rise in May, with some having to wait another month.

This is the way Universal Credit is calculated each month. Universal Credit is calculated based on your circumstances each month and these are called your "assessment periods" - if your circumstances change then the amount of Universal Credit you get that month could also change. Normally you get your Universal Credit payment seven days after each monthly assessment period.

Those whose assessment periods started before the April 8 rise will see the benefits rise in May however, those whose assessment period started after won't see it until June.

For example, if your assessment period started on March 26, your assessment period would then run until April 25 - with a new assessment period starting on April 26. You will then get your Universal Credit a week later on May 2 and because your assessment period is from March to April, the new rates had not been introduced yet so you will have to wait for another assessment period, from April 26 to May 25, to pass until you get the increased rate. If your assessment period started after the April 8 rise, then your Universal Credit payment will be higher in May.

Administrative Earning Threshold changes

This change came in this month and is reported to have affected 180,000 people. The changes affected those who are classed as "fit to work". Under Universal Credit rules, if you are classed as fit to work you are placed into the all work-related activity group and this means you have to do all you can to find a job or earn more.

There are two further groups you can be put into and these are the "Light Touch" and "Intensive Work Search" groups and the Government's Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET) determines which group a person is placed into.

It is based on how much they earn per calendar month with those above the threshold falling within the light touch group and those below into the intensive work group. If you fall into the latter, you need to work more to keep your benefits. The AET has been raise and if you fall below it you need to look for more work. The AET currently stands at 18 hours a week or equivalent to £892 a month, up from 15 hours before. For couples, the new AET rose to 29 hours a week, or the equivalent of earning £1,437 a month. If you don't reach this level, then your benefits can be cut or stopped altogether - you could also face sanctions.

Managed migration

The DWP is continuing to push on with its Managed Migration plan with more and more legacy benefit claimants to receive notices to move to UIniversal Credit in the coming months.

The DWP confirmed earlier this year that it had changed its initial plans and instead of completing the process by 2028, it had brought it forward by three years. This means the transfer from legacy benefits to Universal Credit aims to be completed by the end of 2025.

Currently, the DWP is targeting those claiming Tax Credits only. From June, it will start sending households claiming Housing Benefit their migration notices. From July, people claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) with Child Tax Credits will receive their notices, followed by Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claimants in September. Once you receive a migration notice, you will have three months to put in your claim for Universal Credit - if not you'll have your benefits stopped.

PIP consultation ends

Last month Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced major reform plans to the disability benefit PIP in his "sick note generation" speech. Soon after, the DWP launched a consultation which detailed what proposals have been put on the table. One of the major and most controversial plans included in the paper is to replace regular payments with vouchers or one-off grants.

Another proposal put forward was a "catalogue scheme". This would be an "approved list" of support items such as working aids and equipment which claimants could choose to get at "reduced or no cost". A third idea was to change the eligibility criteria from how someone's condition affects their daily life, to base it on the condition itself.

The consultation is open for 12-weeks overall and businesses, groups, organisations and individuals can provide feedback on how the proposals would affect people. This consultation closes on July 23.

Payment date changes

As with every year, there will be a few payment date changes for benefits in the coming months. These are due to the bank holidays. Benefits are not paid on a bank holiday which means if your payment date falls on the bank holiday you will be paid beforehand. The DWP will do this automatically and you do not need to do anything to receive your cash.

The next bank holiday falls Monday May 27, if you payment falls on this date you will be paid on the Friday beforehand - so this week on Friday, May 24 instead. After this, the next bank holiday is in August on Monday, August 26. When the time comes, you will receive your benefit payment on Friday, August 23 instead.

The final bank holidays of the year will then be at Christmas on December 25 and 26. These dates have yet to be confirmed, but they will likely be paid on the final working day beforehand - so on Christmas Eve on December 24.

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