MILLIONS of households will be affected by major Universal Credit shake ups still to come this year.
There are several changes scheduled for the next few months, including more people being switched to the benefit.
It’s always a good idea to be prepared for any changes to your financial situation.
However it’s more important than ever to be in control of your finances as the cost of living is going up.
Energy bills are on the rise and set to go up further in October, while the price of supermarket shopping has also soared.
We explain the Universal Credit changes that are yet to come in 2022 and how they will affect you.
More people on legacy benefits will be switched to Universal Credit as the government has resumed its managed migration policy.
The programme, which was paused during the pandemic, began again last week.
It involves moving households who still claim benefits that are being phased out on to Universal Credit.
Around 500 people have been affected by the first wave of migration.
But around 2.6million households currently receive legacy benefits and tax credits – meaning many more people will be switched this year.
The government is aiming to complete the major change over by the end of 2024.
If you’re on legacy benefits you need to keep an eye out for a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions.
This will tell you the date you need to apply for Universal Credit by.
If you miss the deadline, you could face having your benefits stopped or delayed.
Different payment dates
Universal Credit payment dates are affected by Bank Holidays, with claimants paid on the last working date before the break.
That means your benefits could be affected by the Queen’s Jubilee at the beginning of June.
Workers have been given an extra Bank Holiday, meaning many people will have June 1 and 2 off.
Therefore, if you’re due to receive your Universal Credit payments on either of those days, you should be paid on May 31 instead.
Post Office accounts close
If you get your Universal Credit, or other benefits, paid into a Post Office card account, you need to take action to prevent the payment being stopped.
The DWP will stop paying benefits into those accounts in November.
It comes after HMRC stopped allowing claimants to use Post Office accounts earlier this year.
Anyone who gets Universal Credit or other benefits paid into a Post Office account needs to make alternative arrangements before November or risk not getting their money.
An estimated 382,000 people use a Post Office card account, which can be used to withdraw money with no fees or charges.
Anyone who already has a bank or building society account can choose for their payments to be made into there instead.
Otherwise, you’ll need to open a new account.
Anyone getting tax credits can change their account details online via gov.uk by calling the tax credits helpline on 0345 300 3900.
For anyone unable to open an account, the government Payment Exceptions Service can be used.
This is a payment card, voucher by email, or text message containing a unique reference number that can be used to access benefit payments from PayPoint outlets in shops and newsagents.
Thousands more eligible
Thousands more Brits are now eligible for Universal Credit after changes to the rules.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak reduced the Universal Credit taper rate at the Budget last year.
While the change has already been made, many people might not realise they’re now entitled to the payment.
You can use a free online benefit calculator to find out if you’re newly eligible for Universal Credit or any other state support.
Changes to Warm Home Discount
The government is shaking up its Warm Home Discount, which is given out to low income families to cover heating bills.
Currently, people on Universal Credit are eligible for the scheme but they have to apply to their supplier.
The £140 grants – rising to £150 this year – are then given out on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Only people claiming the guarantee element of Pension Credit currently get the grant automatically.
But that will change this year, as more people will be automatically eligible, including many on Universal Credit.
Your supplier will get in touch with you before October if you’re entitled to the payment.
If you think you should be eligible for the energy bill help, but don’t get a letter, you should contact the government’s helpline.
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