DWP warns Universal Credit claimants to watch out for urgent message | Personal Finance | Finance

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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is issuing an urgent alert to thousands of Universal Credit recipients, instructing them to check their online accounts starting today, Monday, May 13.

The message will inform those impacted by the new minimum earnings threshold and request that they schedule a meeting with their work coach to discuss immediate actions.

With the recent increase in the Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET), individuals working fewer than 18 hours a week are now required to increase their income.

Affected Universal Credit claimants will be transitioned into the Intensive Work Search group, necessitating more frequent interactions with jobcentre staff to “plan their job progression, boost their earnings and advance the journey off welfare altogether.”

Approximately 180,000 people are directly impacted by this change, and when considering previous hikes, a total of 400,000 claimants are now receiving jobcentre assistance.

The DWP has set clear expectations that those capable of working “must engage with the support available or face losing their benefits.”

To accommodate these changes, regulations have been updated to raise the earnings threshold from £743 to £892 per month for individual claimants and from £1189 to £1473 per month for couples.

These adjustments take effect from May 13, compelling those earning below these figures to engage more frequently with their work coach to enhance their earnings.

The Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET), which determines how many hours a person can work while still receiving benefits, has seen two increases in just over a month. This reflects the Conservative government’s new hardline approach to work and welfare, reports Birmingham Live.

Previously, before 2022, individuals could work up to nine hours per week without being expected to seek additional employment. However, the AET was raised in September 2022 to 12 hours per week at the National Living Wage, and again in January 2023 to 15 hours per week.

These changes were followed by two more recent increases.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) stated: “Impacted claimants will receive a message in their Universal Credit journal and are encouraged to talk to their work coach to understand what it means for them and the help on offer.

“As with previous increases, claimant commitments will be tailored to personal circumstances and will take into account caring responsibilities as well as any health conditions.”

In a statement about the new measures, the Government confirmed its commitment to “getting tough, putting work at the heart of welfare and enforcing a stricter sanctions regime.”

The Prime Minister recently unveiled a series of welfare reform measures, including proposals to terminate claims for those who fail to meet conditions set by their work coach after a year.

The DWP commented: “With over 900,000 job vacancies in the economy, the Government makes no apologies for helping people achieve financial security through work, as we grow the economy and help people build a better life for themselves.”

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