Universal Credit rolled out across UK

June 9, 2015

Lucy_2 (Custom)




By Lucy Palmer-Richeson

A new benefit is being rolled out gradually in select towns and cities across the UK.

Universal Credit was introduced by the Department for Work and Pensions as a way to make the payment system easier. It will replace six different benefits by 2017: Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.

At first, the new benefit will only be available to single claimants who are actively seeking work; it will be rolled out to couples and families in the next 12 months.

Currently, benefit claimants may only work under 16 hours a week to avoid their benefits being cut or stopped altogether. Under the Universal Credit welfare reform, the payment amount claimants receive will slowly reduce once they earn over £111 per week. There is no cap on the amount of hours that can be worked.

However, there will be changes that could affect the way claimants handle and budget their money. The new benefit will be paid monthly rather than weekly, and will be paid in one lump sum, rather than in separate payments as it is now. Also, housing benefit will be paid directly to the claimant rather than to the landlord, meaning claimants will need to make sure rent is paid directly to their landlord on time.

Also, those claiming the new benefit will be required to sign a “claimant commitment”. This commitment will detail all the responsibilities to be carried out in order for the claimant to continue to receive Universal Credit, such as actively seek work. If a claimant fails to follow through with the listed responsibilities, their benefit may be stopped completely.

The government has said that universal credit will bring greater fairness to the welfare system by “ensuring that people are better off in work than on benefits”.