THOUSANDS of working Brits on low incomes are now eligible for Universal Credit after a change to rules today.
Anyone claiming the benefit and in work will now be able to keep more of what they earn.
Universal Credit payments are gradually reduced as you earn more, over a certain amount.
This taper rate is now 55p for every £1 instead of 63p, while the work allowance – an amount some people can earn before the taper applies – has increased by £500 a year.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the change during his Autumn Budget speech last month in a major win for The Sun's Make Universal Credit Work campaign.
The new rates will apply from today with claimants seeing it in their payments from December 1 onward.
Nearly 2million Brits currently on Universal Credit and in work will be better off by around £1,000 a year.
But those on low incomes who were previously not eligible for Universal Credit because they earned too much could now be entitled to the help.
Lowering the taper rate means it’s easier to qualify for the benefit with higher earnings, said Dr Phil Agulnik, boss of charity EntitledTo.
And those on legacy benefits who have not yet moved across to Universal Credit could now be better off under the new system.
He said: "In practical terms these changes mean it’s more important than ever for people to check if they can claim Universal Credit.
"Our calculator will show people whether they qualify under the new rules announced by the Chancellor.
"And even if they don’t qualify now it’s worth checking again if their circumstances change, or in April when entitlement will extend further again."
EntitledTo's benefits calculator has the new rates so anyone checking can get an idea of their entitlement after the rule change.
Anyone on legacy benefits should seek advice on moving on to Universal Credit to make sure they are better off though, as you can't move back.
Some 600,000 extra families will be entitled to receive support, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies – a quarter of all working-age families.
And even some workers earning more than £50,000 could now be eligible, depending on their circumstances.
And a single parent with two children who pays monthly rent of £750 can now earn just under £52,000 before losing their ability to claim the benefit. Previously the figure was £44,500.
A couple with just one earner in the same circumstances can make almost £59,000 in income before being cut off, a rise from £49,300 previously, the think tank said.
Who is eligible for Universal Credit?
In order to qualify for Universal Credit, you must be on a low income or out of work, and need to be over 18.
You, or your partner, should be under State Pension age and must live in the UK.
You won't qualify if you and your partner have more than £16,000 in savings between you.
To find out whether you're eligible for extra help following the changes to the taper rate and work allowance, you can use a benefits calculator.
You'll need to provide details of your savings, income, existing benefits and pensions, outgoings and your council tax bill.
EntitledTo's website has a calculator that includes the new rates.
How to apply for Universal Credit
You can apply for Universal Credit online by creating a gov.uk account, or logging into your old one if you've accessed benefits in the past.
In order to receive the benefit you should submit your claim within 28 days of creating an account.
You will need these details to hand in order to make a claim:
- your bank, building society or credit union account details
- an email address
- information about your housing, for example how much rent you pay
- details of your income, such as payslips
- details of savings and any investments, like shares or a property that you rent out
- details of how much you pay for childcare if you’re applying for help with childcare costs
If you do not provide the right information when you apply it might affect when you get paid or how much you get.
You'll also have to verify your identity online, so you'll need proof of identity such as a driving licence, passport or debit or credit card.
People who are struggling with bills or other costs while they wait for their first payment can apply to get an advance.
Otherwise you will have to wait five weeks to receive your cash.
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