MILLIONS of households will be affected by major universal credit changes in the next year.
There are seven changes on the horizon, including tougher job searching rules and extra payments.
This means you could see changes in how much money you get and how many hours you're expected to work.
Below, we set out all the benefit changes to look out for and how they will affect the money in your pocket.
Longer working hours
Currently, anyone who is on Universal Credit and working nine hours or more does not need to attend regular appointments at the Job Centre.
But that is set to rise to 12 hours, the government has confirmed.
Work and pensions minister Therese Coffey said in an interview with the Telegraph the change will come in "soon" – but stopped short of setting a date.
And the MP in charge of the benefits system also hinted the number of hours could rise further than that in future too if there are enough work coaches.
The rule change means more people will have to meet with their work coach – unless they increase their working hours.
Switch from benefits
More people who claim legacy benefits will start being moved to Universal Credit as the government has resumed managed migration.
The programme, which was paused during the pandemic, began again last month.
It involves moving households who still claim benefits that are being phased out on to Universal Credit.
The government is aiming to complete the major switchover by the end of 2024, and initially it has started with 500 people.
Around 2.6million households currently receive legacy benefits and tax credits and will eventually be moved to the new system.
You can already be moved over if you have a change of circumstances, like moving home or having a baby, and that's still the case.
You can also chose to move over – but you might not be better off.
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Those still on legacy benefits will be invited to move to Universal Credit eventually, and will get a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions.
They will then have to apply for Universal Credit by a certain date, usually within three months.
If you miss the deadline, you could face having your benefits delayed or stopped altogether.
Our benefits expert explains how you can avoid losing cash moving over to Universal Credit.
Tougher job search rules
The length of time people have to accept a job offer has been reduced after a change to rules.
Previously, benefits claimants could spend three months trying to get a role that they have specific experience for.
But that is now four weeks and after that, claimants are now expected to accept alternative offers of employment.
Those who refused offers could have their benefits cut and lose cash.
Here’s how to avoid Universal Credit payments being stopped under new rules, according to a benefits expert.
Millions of people on Universal Credit and other benefits will see a change to payments in July.
Extra cash will land in many people's bank accounts in July to help them through the cost of living crisis.
Hard-up households are being given up to £650 by the government to help with the rising price of essential bills like energy, food and fuel.
The government has now confirmed that half the cash, worth £326, will be paid from July 14.
It means they will get a second payment on top of their usual Universal Credit or benefit payment, if they are eligible for the cash.
he DWP has said that it will be given out as a one-off payment between then and the end of July.
You'll get the cash paid in the same way as your usual benefit payment, for example into the same bank account where you get Universal Credit.
You will need to have been claiming the benefit on or before May 25 to get the cash.
But anyone who missed this deadline could still get the second half of the payment.
The second lot of cash worth £324 will land in Autumn – with an exact date yet to be confirmed.
The exact date you need to be claiming a benefit to be eligible has also not been announced, so it's worth checking sooner rather than later if you qualify for Universal Credit and the second payment.
It's estimated that millions of people are missing out on thousands of pounds a year from unclaimed benefits- and checking if you qualify is a couple of clicks away.
Anyone can check if they are eligible for benefits using a simple calculator tool.
Benefits are not just for those out of work and millions of people in work get Universal Credit to top up their income.
Entitledto's free calculator works out whether you qualify for various benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit.
You will also find benefit calculators from Turn2Us and Policy in Practice.
Pay rise in July
Hundreds of thousands of Brits will get a pay rise next month as the National Insurance threshold is rising.
It means that you can earn more before you start paying this tax.
In March, the Chancellor announced that the threshold that workers pay National Insurance will rise from £9.500 a year to £12,500 from July.
If you're in work and getting Universal Credit, this change could affect benefit payments.
The amount you earn can reduce the amount of Universal Credit you get.
Thousands of people who face a terminal illness diagnosis each year have been promised faster access to benefits.
Under new laws planned for this year, the government said it will make getting the vital cash easier
People diagnosed with a terminal illness will be fast-tracked for certain benefits if they are considered to have less than 12 months to live – currently its six months for some benefits.
The new 12-month rule has already been introduced for two benefits from April 4 this year: Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Now that's set to be extended to further help: Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance.
The exact date the changes will apply from is yet to be announced, but is expected to be put into law this year.
Post Office accounts close
If you get your Universal Credit, or other benefits, paid into a Post Office card account, you need to take action to prevent the payment being stopped.
The DWP will stop paying benefits into those accounts in November.
It comes after HMRC stopped payments to Post Office accounts earlier this year for child benefit and tax credits.
Anyone who gets Universal Credit or other benefits paid into a Post Office account needs to make alternative arrangements before November or risk not getting their money.
An estimated 382,000 people use a Post Office card account, which can be used to withdraw money with no fees or charges.
Anyone who already has a bank or building society account can choose for their payments to be made into there instead.
Otherwise, you'll need to open a new account.
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For anyone unable to open an account, the government Payment Exceptions Service can be used.
This is a payment card, voucher by email, or text message containing a unique reference number that can be used to access benefit payments from PayPoint outlets in shops and newsagents.
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