MILLIONS of households will be affected by the major Universal Credit shake-ups coming this year.
Several changes are planned for the next few months, including the transition of more people to the benefit.
It’s always a good idea to be prepared for any changes in your financial situation.
However, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of your finances as the cost of living rises.
Energy bills are rising and are expected to rise further in October, while the price of shopping in supermarkets has also soared.
We explain the Universal Credit changes coming in 2022 and how they will affect you.
More people with legacy benefits will switch to Universal Credit as the government resumes its managed migration policy.
The program, which had been paused during the pandemic, resumed last week.
It is about moving households that are still applying for benefits that are being phased out to universal credit.
About 500 people were affected by the first wave of migration.
But around 2.6 million households currently receive inherited benefits and tax credits, meaning many more people will be changed this year.
The government aims to complete the major change by the end of 2024.
If you have inherited benefits you should 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 the termination or postponement of your benefits.
Different payment dates
Universal Credit payment dates are affected by public holidays, with claimants being paid on the last business day before the break.
This means that your benefits could be affected by the Queen’s Jubilee at the start of June.
Workers have been given an additional public holiday, which means many people will have June 1 and 2 off.
Therefore, if you are due to receive your Universal Credit payments on one of these days, you should instead be paid on May 31.
Closing of Swiss Post accounts
If you receive your Universal Credit, or other benefits, paid into a Postcard Account, you must take steps to prevent payment from stopping.
The DWP will stop paying benefits to these accounts in November.
It comes after HMRC stopped allowing applicants to use Post Office accounts earlier this year.
Anyone who gets Universal Credit or other benefits paid into a postal account must make other arrangements before November or risk not receiving their money.
An estimated 382,000 people use a postcard account, which can be used to withdraw money without fees or charges.
Anyone who already has a bank or building society account can choose to make payments there instead.
Otherwise, you will need to open a new account.
Anyone receiving tax credits can edit their account details online via gov.uk by calling the tax credit hotline on 0345 300 3900.
For anyone unable to open an account, the government’s payment exceptions service can be used.
This is a payment card, voucher sent by email or SMS containing a unique reference number that can be used to access payment for services from PayPoint outlets in stores and newsagents.
Thousands more eligible
Thousands more Britons are now eligible for Universal Credit after the rules were changed.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak reduced the Universal Credit cut rate in last year’s budget.
Although the change has already been made, many people might not realize that they are now entitled to payment.
You can use a free online benefit calculator to find out if you are newly eligible for Universal Credit or other state assistance.
Changes to the Warm Home Discount
The government is shaking up its Warm Home Discount, which is given to low-income families to cover heating bills.
Currently, people with Universal Credit are eligible for the program, but they must apply to their provider.
Grants of £140 – rising to £150 this year – are then awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
Only people claiming the guarantee element of the pension credit currently get the subsidy automatically.
But that will change this year, as more people will automatically qualify, many of them on Universal Credit.
Your supplier will contact you before October if you are eligible for payment.
If you think you should be eligible for energy bill assistance, but you do not receive a letter, you should contact the government helpline.
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