Universal Credit Changes to benefits 2013
Summary: This article examines the changes that the Universal Credit changes will bring and potential problems that may follow.
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit (UC) will be a means-tested benefit for people of working age. It is not specifically an "in work" or "out of work" benefit. It is one credit for people regardless of their employment status. The existing benefits that UC will replace are:
- Income support
- Income based Jobseekers' Allowance
- Income-related Employment Support Allowance
- Housing benefit
- Working tax credits
- Child tax credits
Who will it affect?
There are currently around 12.5 million claims in place that will be replaced by UC. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to introduce UC in March 2014.
What is the timescale?
The new benefit will be introduced over a period of time. New JSA claims in Ashton-under-Lyne began to receive UC instead of JSA from 29 April 2013. In the 6 month period from 1 October 2013, one district in each geographical region will take on new UC claims. At the same time, existing claimants will be moved to UC when they have a significant change of circumstances. This move will be accelerated between April 2014 and 2017 as new and existing claimants are switched to UC.
Who will receive the payment?
UC is a monthly payment made to one nominated person in the household. The payment may be reduced if the claimant is affected by the UC benefit cap (see separate article). Claims will be made and managed online wherever possible, but face to face and telephone help will be available if needed.
When will I be affected?
If you are in receipt of one or more of the benefits to be replaced the change will take place in 1 of 2 ways:
- Natural migration - if you experience a change of circumstances that affects your benefit entitlement the opportunity will be taken to move you to UC at that point
- Managed migration - if your circumstances don't change, once UC has been set up in every part of the country, you will then be moved to UC. If you're part of the "managed migration" phase you won't receive less under UC than you were previously getting as the Government will top up your UC if required.