Published On: Fri, Apr 3rd, 2020

Universal Credit claim: Amount is changing next week – coronavirus measures explained | Personal Finance | Finance


Universal Credit is a payment which may be able to be claimed in order to help with living costs such as by some who are on a low income or out of work. As the UK coronavirus epidemic continues to cause devastation, some may need to claim the payment in order to cope with the financial impact of the outbreak.

Universal Credit is replacing six legacy benefits, and these are Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and Working Tax Credit.

Changes to the payment are set to come into effect next week.

This is because the tax year for 2019 to 2020 ends on Sunday April 5, with the new tax year beginning on Monday, April 6.

What are some of the changes Universal Credit claimants can expect?

READ MORE: Martin Lewis exposes two ‘biggest problems’ with coronavirus furlough scheme

Universal Credit rise – benefit freeze ends

The benefits freeze is set to end as planned this year, meaning from April 6, the payment will increase.

The rise is of 1.7 percent, which is in line with inflation.

Due to the freeze to working-age benefits, Universal Credit is among a number of payments which have not risen since April 2015.

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Legacy benefits which are affected by the rise are the following: Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Universal Credit, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits and Child Benefit.

However, research by the Resolution Foundation last year found that despite the end to the four-year freeze, the impact of it on lower income families will continue.

The Foundation’s analysis shows that it has reduced the real-terms value of working-age benefits by six per cent since 2015.

According to the think tank research, the freeze has left the average couple with children in the bottom half of the income distribution £580 a year worse off.

Universal Credit additional increase

Emergency measures to try tackle to economic impact of the coronavirus crisis were announced by the Government last month.

From April 6, the Government is increasing the standard allowance in Universal Credit by £1,000 a year, for 12 months.

This works out at around an extra £80 per month, and it is in addition to the inflation uprating.

The temporary increase applies to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and it will be in place for one year.

Working Tax Credits will also increase by the same amount.

Additionally, the minimum income floor for Universal Credit has been suspended for anyone impacted by coronavirus. This means it can be claimed by any self-employed people out of work at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak also announced temporary measures relating to Housing Benefit.

Speaking in a daily press briefing on March 20, he said: “I’m announcing today, nearly £1billion of support for renters, by increasing the generosity of Housing Benefit and Universal Credit, so that the local housing allowance will cover at least 30 percent of market rents in your area.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter said: “These are vital measures to strengthen the safety net and to keep people in work and they will significantly reduce the numbers of people at risk of losing their home.

“We are already hearing from people who are rapidly losing work and we think the government may need to further increase Housing Benefit to cover average rents as well as introduce other measures to provide crucial security to these workers during this crisis”



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