Universal Credit: Can you claim if you’re working?

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Universal Credit: Expert discusses benefits of claiming

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Universal Credit is provided by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and many Britons are not aware that the support can be claimed even if a person is working. According to official statistics around 40 percent of those claiming Universal Credit are working. With the UK facing the worst cost of living crisis is has seen for 40 years, Britons are being urged to check if they are eligible to claim financial help.

People are able to apply to receive Universal Credit if they’re out of work or on a low-income, live in the UK, are over the age of 18 years, are under state pension age, and have less than £16,000 in savings.

There are some circumstances where people aged 16-17 years are eligible to receive.

Universal Credit is usually paid once a month and is made up of a basic “standard allowance” for a household.

In 2022-23, the standard amount is £265.31 a month for single claimants under 25, and £334.91 a month for single claimants aged 25 or over.

Couples or joint claimants under 25 receive a standard allowance of £416.45 and for those over 25 years it’s £525.72.

Those who claim Universal Credit but still work can be eligible for the “work allowance” which is the amount a person can earn before it affects their Universal Credit payment.

To qualify for the work allowance, a person must be in paid employment and responsible for a dependent child, or are unable to work as much because of an illness or disability.

With the work allowance, Universal Credit payments reduce the more people earn.

In November last year, the former Chancellor Rishi Sunak cut the Universal Credit taper rate and work allowance from 63p to 55p which aimed to help Britons receiving the benefit be better off.

This means that for every £1 a person works over their work allowance, if they have one, Universal Credit will reduce by 55 pence rather than 63 pence.

In 2022-23, the monthly work allowance is set at £344 if a person’s Universal Credit includes housing support, and at £573 if it doesn’t.

Those claiming may also be eligible for extra payments depending on their circumstances.

People may be able to receive the “top ups” if they look after children, work and pay for childcare, or need help with housing costs.

Extra payments are also available to those who are disabled or have a health condition and are a carer for a disabled person or have a disabled child.

MoneyHelper.com stated that it was “important” that those who believe that may be eligible for Universal Credit should apply as soon as possible.

This is because claimants could possibly wait up to five weeks after claiming before receiving their first payment.

The date a person submits their claim is the date of the month their Universal Credit payment will be paid.

Citizens Advice offers a free “Help to Claim” service for those who are claiming Universal Credit for the first time.

This service can help people check if they are entitled to Universal Credit, help with the paperwork and documents needed to claim, and support claimants with the online application.

People who claim Universal Credit can usually be entitled to claim further support. Extra support could consist of reduced council tax and water bills, free or cheaper broadband from certain suppliers, and free prescriptions.

Claimants can also be eligible to claim up to £300 in Winter Fuel Payments, £25 in Cold Weather Payments, and up to £140 off fuel bills with the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

Universal Credit is replacing some of the older ‘legacy benefits’ that Britons have been able to claim and combines multiple different benefits someone could claim into one streamlined payment.

Some of these legacy benefits include Housing Benefit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), and Child and Working Tax Credit.

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