DWP makes Universal Credit changes affecting millions of you

Universal Credit claimants should be aware of two big changes coming up -Credit:Getty Images
Universal Credit claimants should be aware of two big changes coming up -Credit:Getty Images

Two changes to Universal Credit will impact millions this week. The changes, involving increases to payments and the Administrative Earnings Threshold, will arrive on Monday (May 13) and Tuesday (May 14).

On Monday, the Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET) increased, meaning claimants must now seek more hours of work to avoid the "intensive work search" in order to keep benefits. Prior to Monday, the AET for single claimants was set at 15 hours a week at the National Living Wage.

On Monday it rose to 18 hours a week, which means someone needs to be earning £892 a month. For couples, the AET will increase to 29 hours a week and the equivalent of earning £1,437 a month, the Mirror reports.

The AET is used to decide which "work group" you’re placed in. If you earn below the AET rate you will be in the "intensive work search" and will be forced to look for more work or increase your hours to keep your benefits. Your benefits can be cut or stopped altogether if you fail to meet your Universal Credit commitments.

The second change involves the benefits increase finally being filtered through to payments. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced that benefits will rise by 6.7% from April 8 - but because of how Universal Credit is paid, the date the first people will see this increase in their payments is on May 14.

Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, based on your "assessment period" - and the new increased rate will not be paid until a new Universal Credit assessment period begins on or after April 8. You usually get your Universal Credit payment seven days after each monthly assessment period.

Universal Credit is made up of a "standard allowance" which is based on your age and if you’re claiming as a single person, or in a couple. You may also then get additional payments on top of this - for example, if you look after a child, or you're unable to work due to health issues.

Any additional amounts you may be entitled to are then applied to give your total figure before any deductions are then made. You may be subject to deductions if you're in work, if you have savings, or if you owe the DWP money. Here is how much the Universal Credit “standard allowance” is now worth:

  • Single under 25: £311.68 a month

  • Single 25 or over: £393.45 a month

  • Joint claimants both under 25: £489.23 a month

  • Joint claimants, one or both 25 or over: £617.60 a month

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