Pensions, Universal Credit and other payment rates from April
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Universal Credit was first introduced in 2013 by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to replace six legacy benefits. From today the DWP will start moving certain claimants over to Universal Credit, which could mean changes to payments.
Campaigners are urging people to conduct a benefits check before initiating a change themselves as it can’t be undone.
While the DWP says it’s a necessary shake up to streamline the benefits system, others are worried about its possible effect on households who are already struggling.
Anela Anwar, chief executive of anti-poverty charity Z2K, said the Government must ensure it doesn’t leave people without essential finances.
She said: “It ensures DWP avoids a repeat of the shambolic early stages of Universal Credit, when many people were left without anything to live on for weeks or sometimes even months on end.
“That resulted in MPs getting hundreds of complaints from desperate and angry constituents.”
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A DWP spokesperson said: “Over five million people are already supported by Universal Credit. We know work is the best route out of poverty and Universal Credit is a dynamic system which adjusts as people’s earnings change, is more generous overall than the old benefits, and simplifies our safety net for those who cannot work.
“Roughly 1.4 million people on legacy benefits would be an average of around £220 a month better off on Universal Credit, with top up payments available for eligible claimants whose Universal Credit entitlement is less.”
Although everyone won’t be moved over overnight, it’s hoped the process will be completed by 2024.
The DWP has launched a new section on the Universal Credit website for Tax Credit customers explaining the difference between the benefits.
It also has a handy benefits calculator so people can see the difference for themselves.
Claimants moving to Universal Credit will receive a two-week run-on of their Income Support, Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance.
Those moving from Housing Benefit will receive a two-week Transition to Universal Credit Housing Payment.
More information can be found at Gov.uk.
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Meanwhile, Universal Credit claimants might not be aware they can apply up to 30 additional freebies which could help them make huge savings.
Some people are still unaware they could qualify for things like reduced travel, free broadband and Healthy Start Vouchers.
Around one million households are eligible to receive free broadband installation from Openreach, which could save a low income household £92 on installation charges.
In addition, claimants are also entitled to Healthy Start Vouchers but may need to apply for them.
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