Universal Credit: Millions more Britons could be eligible for top up thanks to new rules

Martin Lewis: 500,000 more people now eligible for Universal Credit

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More than £15billion is lost in unclaimed benefits every year and a significant percentage of this is down to people not claiming Universal Credit that they are entitled to. Furthermore, recent changes announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak mean that many more people who didn’t qualify for this benefit previously could now find that they are within the threshold.

December and January can be some of the toughest months financially which is why charities are reminding people on low incomes that they could be due extra help from the Government.

40 percent of people claiming Universal Credit are in work but receiving the additional help from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to top up their income.

Two million more people could be eligible for this help as the taper allowance rules changed in November.

The changes mean that after the threshold, their Universal Credit allowance will be reduced by 55p instead of 63p.

For households on a low income this could mean an extra £1,000 a year – a lifeline to many families struggling to make ends meet against rising living costs.

However, experts fear that many Britons who are struggling do not yet know they are entitled to this extra help or indeed realise that they have to put in a new claim.

What are the new taper allowance rules?

Once people earn more than their work allowance their Universal Credit payments will be reduced at a steady rate.

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The Universal Credit earnings taper rate is currently 55 percent.

For every £1 a person earns over their work allowance (if they have one), Universal Credit payments will reduce by 55 pence, rather than 63 pence.

However, not everyone is entitled to a work allowance, but those who are include people with responsibility for a child or a limited capability for work.

Individual circumstances will affect how much of an allowance someone is allocated before reductions kick in but a rough guide is £335 per month if they receive help with housing costs and £557 if they don’t.

Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey said the changes which were brought in towards the end of November should help two million British people.

Dr Coffey said: “From today, two million people will see their income boosted by £1,000 per year, on average, as we bring in an effective tax cut worth £2.2billion for the lowest paid.

“We are making the change earlier than planned which means up to 500,000 more households can benefit before Christmas.”

People who have stopped receiving Universal Credit because their earnings have increased or they have gone back to work should reapply.

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Initially, Britons could check whether they now fall into the bracket for help by inputting their earnings details into an online benefits calculator.

There are three independent ones to choose from on the Government website which will help people work out whether it’s worth making a claim.

They can make a claim online or ask for further advice from charities like Turn2Us or EntitledTo.

They could also be entitled to other Government help like free prescriptions or Personal Independence Payments.

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