Universal Credit cut – How to minimise your losses

Here’s a quick guide on how to minimise your losses and make sure you are being paid what you are owed…

This week, the £20-a-week boost to Universal Credit introduced in response to the pandemic will be scrapped, in a change that’s set to affect millions of Brits. Charities have warned that the reduction in income, which for many could mean a loss of up to £1,040 a year, could force hundreds of thousands below the poverty line.

According to personal finance experts at money.co.uk, it’s essential for anyone currently receiving Universal Credit to review their financial situation as there may be other forms of income support, childcare support or debt support they are eligible for that could help make up for the loss of income.

“If you have children under the age of 16 and no one in your household makes £60,000 a year, then you should be entitled to at least some child benefit. The weekly rates are £21.15 for an eldest or only child and £14 a week for additional children. However, the amount you receive falls as soon as someone in the household starts making £50,000 a year.

“Payments are made every 4 weeks and there’s no limit to how many children you can claim for. You should remember that you can continue to claim the benefit until your child turns 20 if they remain in full time education.” – James Andrews, senior personal finance expert at money.co.uk

Other benefits designed for families and those with children include Child tax credit, Guardian’s allowance, Sure Start maternity grant, Maternity allowance, Bereavement support payment and widowed parent’s allowance, as well as maternity, paternity or adoption pay.

If you have a recognised disability or a long-term illness, you should be able to claim the personal independence payment (PIP), which is for anyone aged 16-64 with a health condition or disability that restricts or otherwise affects their daily life.

“You will need to be assessed in order to make a claim and the amount paid varies between £60 and £89.60 a week, depending on how your condition affects your life. Your PIP payment, which is tax free, is usually paid every 4 weeks and is not affected by your income or savings.

“You should be entitled to income-related support If your household income and savings are below a certain amount. This will help you meet living costs that you would otherwise struggle to pay, and includes Universal Credit.” –James Andrews, senior personal finance expert at money.co.uk

Other income-related benefits include support for mortgage interest (SMI), council tax reduction, free school meals, interest-free budgeting loans, funeral expenses payment and cold weather payments. Meanwhile, you may be able to get extra support from your local council or a charity grant.

Those currently looking for work can claim Job Seeker’s allowance (JSA), although eligibility depends on national insurance contributions. JSA is capped at £59.20 a week for under 25s and £74.70 for over 25s.

If you’re still unsure which benefits you’re entitled to, check out money.co.uk’s comprehensive guide here: https://www.money.co.uk/guides/what-benefits-are-you-entitled-to.htm.

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