New DWP rules start this week for 180,000 people on Universal Credit working part-time

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed that new rule changes for around 180,000 people in part-time work claiming Universal Credit will start on May 13. Those working less than half of a full-time week will have to meet their work coach more often to boost their earnings.

As part of the UK Government’s sweeping changes to the welfare system, the Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET) is rising from 15 hours to 18 hours per week for an individual claimant. The new rules affect individuals earning below £892 per assessment period (typically a calendar month) or £1,437 for couples - this is up from £617 for individuals and £988 for couples.

This means individual Universal Credit claimants will need to earn an additional £275 each month and couples an extra £449 - based on National Living Wage payment rates. DWP said that those able to work are expected to use the Jobcentre support available or face losing their benefits.

Commenting on the rule changes, Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said: “We will always back those who want to work hard and today we are radially expanding the support available to help people progress in work.

“With the next generation of welfare reforms, I want to help thousands of people on their journey off benefits and towards financial independence.

“Our plan is making work pay, with people in full-time work now £7,000 better off than on out-of-work benefits, and our tax cuts putting £900 back in the pockets of millions of workers across Britain.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Today’s changes will help more people on universal credit move into well paid jobs and progress towards financial independence, which is better for them and for economic growth.”

He added that “welfare should always be a safety net and not a lifestyle choice”.

You can check how much Universal Credit you will get each month in the statement in your online account.

Your Universal Credit payment will reduce as your wages go up, and increase again if you stop working or your wages go down.

For every £1 you or your partner earns your payment goes down by 55p. This amount will be automatically deducted from your Universal Credit payment.

If you earn below the AET

The DWP guidance on GOV.UK states that if you as an individual earning below the AET in an assessment period, you must:

  • show you’re actively looking for more, or better-paid work

  • be available for work

Unless you’re part of a couple whose combined earnings are at, or above, the couple’s AET.

If you’re part of a couple whose individual earnings are below the individual AET, and whose combined earnings are below the couple’s AET, both of you must:

  • show you’re actively looking for more, or better-paid work

  • be available for work

You will also get regular personalised support from a ‘work coach’. Your work coach can help you with job search strategies, interview skills and connecting with employers.

Full guidance on the Administrative Earnings Threshold and claiming Universal Credit can be found on GOV.UK here.