Huge change to Universal Credit comes into force for 25,000 households today – what it means for you | The Sun

TENS of thousands of people on Universal Credit will be affected by a huge change that comes into force today.

Universal Support is a new employment programme for disabled people and those with long-term health conditions claiming Universal Credit.

It is aimed at matching participants with jobs, funding support and training with a view to them finding long-term work.

The government is set to spend up to £4,000 per person to help them find appropriate jobs and put in place the support they need.

The voluntary scheme is expected to help 25,000 people move towards employment by September next year.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said those who are eligible will be contacted and referred by work coaches to take part in the scheme.


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Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride MP, said: "We know the positive impact work can have on our health and wellbeing.

"Universal Support is a huge step towards unlocking the benefits and opportunities of employment for more disabled and disadvantaged people."

The DWP said Universal Support will ramp up over time and is expected to support 50,000 people a year from 2025/2026.

It expand to help with issues like managing health conditions, debt and navigating any workplace adjustments to accommodate additional needs.

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The Universal Support programme was announced in the Chancellor's Spring Budget alongside a host of other benefit changes.

Who can take part in the Universal Support programme?

Jobcentre work coaches will make referrals to the new programme, as well as healthcare professionals such as GPs and practice nurses.

They will use their local networks to identify people who want to find work but are not yet being assisted by work coaches.

After an initial assessment, participants will be introduced to suitable employers based on their preferences, strengths and any lessons learned from previous work experience, to ensure they find a job that is right for them.

They will then receive in-work support provided by a personal adviser – in person and online – as they start and sustain employment.

This may include debt advice or help with networking or housing.

For people with mild to moderate mental or physical health conditions, support will be integrated with their normal health treatment.

What other Universal Credit changes are coming?

Changes to payment dates – August and December

Households on benefits including Universal Credit could see their usual payment dates change around the December bank holidays.

This is because the DWP makes payments early if your usual payment date lands on a bank holiday.

Here's when you will be paid if you fall into this category:

  • Festive period – payments due on December 25, 26 and 27 will be made on December 22

If your payment date is not December 25, 26 or 27, you shouldn't expect any changes.

If yours is and you don't receive your benefit payment one working day before the bank holiday you should contact the DWP.

You can also submit a complaint to them.

Managed migration – September

The DWP is in the process of moving people on so-called "legacy benefits" such as tax credits on to Universal Credit.

The move is known as "managed migration" and started in April following a successful pilot in Harrogate, Yorkshire, in July 2019.

The DWP announced in May it will start moving those on tax credits to Universal Credit across the whole of the UK from September.

Over two million people will eventually be moved on to Universal Credit by March 2025.

However, those claiming employment and support allowance (ESA) and not on tax credits will be moved by 2028.

Universal Credit helpline changes – September

The DWP is rolling out a change to its helpline for the 5.9million currently claiming Universal Credit.

The Government department is introducing a new automated "Conversational Platform" in late September which will guide claimants through queries.

Claimants will speak to a virtual agent who will be able to answer simple questions.

Callers who need further help will be redirected to a real DWP agent.

Michael Clarke, from charity Turn2Us, previously told The Sun: "We obviously support any solutions that make it easier for people to access the benefits they're entitled to.

"However, it's crucial that people who are going through a stressful, difficult time in their lives have easy access to the support they need and that trialling these systems is done in a safe, transparent way that prioritises getting people the support they need."

Changes to work rules and sanctions – autumn

Over 100,000 Universal Credit claimants will have to step up their search for work or face having benefit cuts from this autumn.

The minimum amount of hours claimants must work before having to meet with Jobcentre work coaches will increase from 15 hours to 18.

The changes will mean anyone working fewer than 18 hours will have fresh requirements to meet with officials to find more work.

If they do not, they risk having their benefits cut.

The Government is also bolstering its Universal Credit sanctions regime.

This includes additional training for work coaches to ensure they are applying sanctions effectively, including for claimants who do not look for or take up employment.

Automated messages will start being sent to claimants who fail to meet with work coaches in a bid to move into work or increase their earnings too.

Parents on Universal Credit meeting with work coaches more often – later this year

Thousands of parents on Universal Credit will have to increase the amount of time spent looking for or preparing for work from later this year.

Parents with children aged three to 12 will have to increase their work-related activity hours.


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The change comes as the second part of two this year.

The first came in July and now sees the same group of parents having to meet with work coaches more regularly in order to retain their Universal Credit award.

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