Over the coming weeks, people claiming Universal Credit will receive notifications about a cut to their benefits this autumn. Benefits experts at Citizens Advice, 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 reduce 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 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 so it’s important to seek independent help from somewhere like Citizens Advice. Depending on your circumstances, this 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 www.entitledto.co.uk/ or contact Taunton Citizens Advice 0808 278 7842.
- Support with essential costs. You can contact Somerset West and Taunton Council to see if they can give you any extra help from a hardship fund, including for food or essential things like clothes.
- 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 0808 278 7842, Taunton Area Debt Advice 07921 526087 or Christians Against Poverty 0800 328 0006 can provide advice and support. If you live in social housing you may be able to get advice from the Council or your Housing Association.
- Free school meals. If you have children and you get certain benefits, you might be able to get free school meals for your children. You can check with the school or contact Somerset County Council.
- Food bank vouchers. If you can’t afford the food you can ask for a referral from Citizens Advice or an organisation that’s already supporting you – for example, a charity, school or children’s centre – for a food bank voucher.