Major Universal Credit rule change coming within WEEKS for 114,000 people – how to avoid your benefits being stopped | The Sun

A MAJOR shake-up to Universal Credit is coming in just weeks and could mean your benefits are stopped – here's how to avoid it.

From September 26, some claimants will be expected to have more meetings with work coaches, increase their search for work or take on more hours.

That's because around 115,000 people on Universal Credit will be moved onto an "intensive work search" regime, from a "light touch" work group.

It means these people will be expected to invest more hours looking for jobs, or take on more hours working.

If you fail to meet your new targets, you could see your benefits slashed, or even stopped.

Something known as the Administration Earnings Threshold (AET) is a monthly amount that marks if you're in the "intensive work search" category or the "light touch" group.

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Those currently earning below £355 a month, or £567 for couples, are in the intensive work search group.

That includes people who earn nothing at all while on the benefit.

The threshold for this will rise on September 26 to £494 a month, or £782 for joint claims.

Those in the light touch regime and earning over the threshold are not required to search for work or take on more hours.

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Exactly how many more hours you will be expected to take on will vary depending on your circumstances.

You can find these details in your claimant commitment – which is an agreement between you and the government outlining what you will do to get Universal Credit payments.

You can find it by logging into your Universal Credit account online.

Searching for work can include can range from applying for jobs, and creating job profiles online, to registering with an employment agency.

People in the work search group are also expected to see a work coach more often, compared to the light touch group where it's voluntary after initial contact.

How do I find out if I'm affected?

The DWP will contact you if you've been affected by the changes.

The change to the AET brings it in line with the National Living Wage, the government has said.

The new AET is the equivalent of an individual working 12 hours per week or a couple working 19 hours per week between them.

Since its introduction in 2013, the AET has not kept pace with the increases in the National Living Wage, with the result that the number of hours needed to work to earn the AET has fallen over time.

The threshold will rise in future in line with the National Living Wage, the DWP said.

Currently the wage is set at £9.50 per hour for those 23 and over.

How else could I lose my benefits?

If you don't update the DWP with changes to your personal circumstances, you could see your benefits stopped or cut.

For example, going away on holiday for a long time and failing to tell the DWP could result in this.

Not telling the DWP about your child leaving education could affect your benefits too.

If you quit work without a good reason you may see your benefits reduced.

There's no set definition of what a good reason is, but it might include unaffordable childcare costs.

People are often required to attend interviews and appointments with the Job Centre as part of their Universal Credit claims.

If you fail to turn up to a meeting you will be sanctioned until you attend another review.

If you repeatedly miss meetings the sanctions may be stricter and last longer.

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