The coronavirus pandemic has hit the UK, not only impacting on thousands of people’s health, but having a knock-on effect on the economy, and personal finances. With many fearing they’ll struggle to make ends meet, some may look into whether they can get financial help – such as by claiming Universal Credit.
The payment is intended to help with living costs, such as if a person is on a low income or is out of work.
It is made up of a standard allowance, and some people may be able to get additional amounts, due to their circumstances.
This can include if they have children, or if they have a disability or health condition which prevents them from working, or need help in paying rent.
The payment itself is usually made monthly – although this may be more frequent in Scotland, and the rules may differ for those in Northern Ireland.
It’s possible to access independent benefits calculators online, in order to see how much a person can get.
Another important aspect to be aware of is that earnings can affect how much a person gets on Universal Credit.
The claimant’s circumstances are assessed each month, and changes in circumstances can affect how much a person is paid for the whole assessment period – not just from the date that the changes are reported.
With many fearing their income will be impacted amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some may wonder whether they’re eligible for Universal Credit.
And, those with savings stored away for the future will likely wonder whether it will have an impact on their eligibility.
Universal Credit eligibility
The Gov.uk website currently states that a person may be able to get Universal Credit if:
- They’re on a low income or out of work
- They’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if the claimant is 16 to 17)
- They’re under state pension age (or their partner is)
- The claimant and their partner have £16,000 or less in savings between them
- They live in the UK.
According to current eligibility rules, it seems that a person would need to have £16,000 or less in savings if they were to claim Universal Credit individually.
Those who live as a couple would need to have £16,000 or less between them in order to be eligible.
Universal Credit is set to increase for 12 months, as an emergency measure amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement was made by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak on Friday, who revealed the standard allowance amount would rise by £1,000 over the course of a year for 12 months.
The move works out at an increase of around £83 per month for the 12-month period.
This increase announcement has come as an urgent measure following the coronavirus outbreak, while the payment was already set to rise next month following the end of the benefits freeze.
Under this freeze, working-age benefits including Universal Credit have stayed at the same level since April 2015.
Legacy benefits affected by the end of the benefits freeze include Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Universal Credit, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits and Child Benefit.