Universal Credit cut: Everything you need to know
Over the last few weeks, people claiming Universal Credit will have received notifications about a cut to their benefits this autumn. Benefits experts at Citizens Advice Ipswich, which is campaigning against the cut, set out what this means for claimants.
When will the cut happen?
As it stands, the government is set to slash benefits by £20 a week – equivalent to £1,040 a year – from 6 October. The exact date people will see the cut kick in will depend on the day they get their Universal Credit payment. For many, this means September will be the last month they see their benefits paid at existing levels.
How many people will be affected?
If plans go ahead, the cut will hit nearly six million people on Universal Credit. This includes 13,356 people in Ipswich.
According to the latest available figures, approximately 43% of Ipswich residents set to see their benefits drop are families with children, and 41% are already in work.
How much could I lose?
While every Universal Credit claim will drop by around £85 a month, the proportion of income claimants will lose will vary depending on their circumstances. Single people under 25 are set to be hit by the biggest drop.
Monthly standard allowances will drop:
- By a quarter for single claimants under 25, from £344 to £257.33
- By a fifth for single claimants over 25, from £411.51 to £324.84
- By 17% for joint claimants under 25, from £490.60 to £403.93
- By 14% for joint claimants over 25, from £596.58 to £509.91
What support is available if I’m worried about my income?
You’re not alone and there is support available. Everyone’s situation is different which is why speaking to a trained adviser may be helpful. Depending on your circumstances, support could include:
- A benefits check. This will help you verify you’re getting all the support you’re entitled to. You can use an online calculator as a starting point or call Citizens Advice Ipswich on 0808 278 7868 and an adviser can help you.
- Support with essential costs. You can contact Suffolk County Council to see if they can give you any extra help from a hardship fund, including food or essential things like clothes.www.suffolk.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/suffolk-advice-and-support-service/gateway-partners/ or call the Suffolk Advice & Support Service on 0800 068 3131
- Help with debt. Some bills can cause you more problems than others if you don’t pay them. Rent or mortgage arrears, energy bills and council tax are your priority debts as there can be serious consequences if you don’t pay them. Citizens Advice Ipswichcan provide guidance if you’re struggling with bills.
- Free school meals. If you have children and you get certain benefits, you might be able to get free school meals for your children.
- Food bank vouchers. If you can’t afford the food you can ask for a referral from Citizens Advice Ipswich or an organisation that’s already supporting you – for example, a charity, school or children’s centre – for a food bank voucher.
Nicky Willshere at Citizens Advice Ipswich said:
“Many people seeking our advice at the moment are unaware of an impending cut to their Universal Credit. Understandably, when they realise their benefits are set to drop by £20 a week it causes a lot of anxiety.
“If you’re in this position, remember you are not alone and there is support available. As a first step, make sure you’re checking your online journal regularly so you know how much your benefits will reduce by and when.
“Citizens Advice Ipswich, which is campaigning against the cut, is on hand to help you if you’re worried about making ends meet.”
Call us on 0808 278 7868 or send us a message to speak to a trained adviser.