A major change to Universal Credit (UC) has come into force this week - and the shake-up could result in benefit cuts for thousands of claimants.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said that people claiming UC will be moved from a ‘light touch’ work search category into the ‘intensive work search’ group from September 26.
It means claimants could be required to increase their hours at their existing job, look for better paid work - or risk losing their benefits together.
Around 114,000 part-time workers will be impacted by the rule change, which the DWP claims is aimed towards helping job seekers earn more money.
Universal Credit changes for claimants explained
Currently, those working up to nine hours a week while being paid the National Living Wage are in the ‘intensive work search group’, which means they must actively look for more work while visiting the Job Centre frequently.
Claimants working above nine hours a week are in the ‘light touch’ work group, which means they have less contact with the Job Centre as they are not required to seek more work.
Under the rule change the number of hours you need to stay in the ‘light touch’ work search group is increasing to 12 hours per week at the National Living Wage.
If you’re falling below the new threshold, you might be required to up your hours or look for extra work or risk losing your benefits.
How do I know if I’m affected by the Universal Credit rule change - how to get help
Claimants affected by the rule change will receive a message in their journal and can talk to their Work Coach to understand what it means for them and what help is available.
You should receive this journal message at the end of your first full assessment period after September 26.
For more information, visit the government website.