A number of positive changes to Universal Credit were announced in the recent budget:
- Universal Credit Work Allowance increase – the Work Allowance for households with children, and people with disabilities will be increased by £83.33 a month from April 2019. However, Work Allowances have not been restored for other types of claimant.
- Maximum rate at which deductions can be made from a Universal Credit award will reduce from 40% to 30% of the standard allowance from October 2019.
- 12-month grace period for Minimum Income Floor will apply to all gainfully self-employed people. This will be introduced from July 2019 and implemented fully from September 2020.
- Additional fortnight’s benefit payment for transition to Universal Credit for people on the income-related elements of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance, and Income Support from July 2020.
- Universal Credit advances can be recovered over 16 months from October 2021.
- Claimants receiving SDP on legacy benefits, who would normally have naturally migrated to UC, will no longer be required to do so. They will remain on their existing benefits or be able to claim another existing benefit instead.
- Claimants who have already been naturally migrated to UC and who are still entitled to UC; and who were entitled to the Severe Disability Premium via JSA(IB), HB, IS or ESA(IR) immediately prior to migration; will have transitional payments added to their UC award.
- 18 to 21 year olds will be entitled to claim support for housing costs under Universal Credit from 31 December 2018.
- There will be a new statutory entitlement to two weeks’ of leave for employees who suffer the death of a child under 18, or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employed parents will also be able to claim pay for this period, subject to meeting eligibility criteria. This entitlement will come into force in April 2020.
- The surplus earnings policy in Universal Credit will continue to affect large earnings spikes (above £2,500) until April 2020, when it will revert to affecting earnings spikes of £300.
- The Universal Credit implementation schedule has been updated: it will begin in July 2019, as planned, but will end in December 2023
- Funding for supported housing will be retained within the welfare system, rather than moving to a local funding model.
- The transfer of rent support from Housing Benefit to Pension Credit will be delayed by 3 years.
There are more changes to managed migration detailed in the draft UC managed migration regs.