Ministers in talks over big rule change to give millions on Universal Credit extra cash
MINISTERS are looking at making changes to Universal Credit to try and soften the blow from the £20 a week cut to benefits – which could give Brits extra cash.
Top bosses at the Department for Work and Pensions are urging Rishi Sunak to cut the taper rate at which benefits are slashed when people are working.
The £20 a week cut to the six-in-one benefit is coming at the end of the month, and Boris Johnson is standing firm in his determination to slash it back to pre-pandemic levels.
It means millions will see their Universal Credit cut by £1,040 a year from the end of September – just as inflation starts to bite and fuel bills are expected to rise too.
The Treasury has asked all departments to submit their bids in time for this year's spending review – where he will dish out cash and allocate Government money for the year ahead.
The DWP are understood to have submitted a range of options to officials at the Treasury to look at to try and mitigate the impact of the benefits cut.
Ministers suggested a cut to the Universal Credit taper rate from 63p down to 60p – in a move which would help boost the incomes of more than two million Brits.
It would be a huge win for The Sun's Make Universal Credit Work campaign, where we've been fighting for Brits to be able to keep more of what they earn.
Claimants with children or who are unable to work due to a disability receive an allowance before the taper kicks in.
This is known as the work allowance and is £293 for those who also receive housing support or £515 if not.
Claimants who don't have children or are able to work don't get this allowance.
Cutting this taper rate would encourage Brits to work more hours to make up for the cut to cash.
The Sun is calling for the Work Allowance to be raised and the taper rate reduced to 50p for every £1 earned to help at least four million families hold on to their hard earned cash.
We have also demanded that the waiting time for payments is cut, the work allowance is boosted and for childcare costs to be paid upfront.
The Treasury refused to comment on spending review speculation, but it's understood it's not currently being considered by the Treasury at the moment.
Cutting the taper by 3p is estimated to cost around £1billion to the Exchequer at a time where he's trying to pay back Covid debts.
Officials reckon keeping the taper rate in place would be equivalent to putting a penny on income tax for everyone.
A Downing Street spokesperson said today: "We have talked before about the Universal Credit being temporary.
"The Prime Minister spoke a lot about his ambition to move towards a high wage, high skill, economy, getting more people back to work. There is a range of support available to people this winter.
"We've set out the schemes that are in place to support low income households."
We've told how working couples like Amanda Plowman and army veteran husband Bryan faced hardship when swapping onto the new benefits system because of the harsh taper rate.
For every pound over the work allowance someone earns, 63p in that is removed from the benefits package.
The Sun also understands that other options under consideration are an ask for the Treasury to put more cash into targeted support funds for the most needy.
One minister said: "It would be far better to target extra money to those who really need it. We are making the case to Rishi ahead of the spending review to see what can be done."
The upcoming cut to UC will hit millions, and charities have warned people risk being pushed into debt and hardship.
Six former former Conservative work and pension secretaries all wrote to chancellor Rishi Sunak asking him to keep the uplift in place.
But the Treasury has repeatedly confirmed its intention to withdraw the extra funds.
A spokesperson told the Sun: "More than £9bn will have been spent on the uplift by the time it ends in September. It is right that economic support is wound down as we come out of this crisis and we focus on helping people back into work."
What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit
IF you're experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don't cover costs, here are your options:
- Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it's a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit payout.
- Alternative Payment Arrangements – If you're falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you're part of a couple.
- Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the Government for emergency household costs of up to £348 if you're single, £464 if you're part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You'll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You'll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
- Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax by applying for a Council Tax Reduction. Alternatively, you might be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments to help cover your rent.
- Foodbanks – If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.
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