Universal Credit cuts – everything you need to know

Citizen's Advice Leicestershire

Over the coming weeks people claiming Universal Credit will receive notifications about a cut to their benefits this autumn. Benefits experts at Citizens Advice Leicestershire, which is campaigning against the cut, set out what this means for claimants.

When will the cut happen?

As it stands, the government is set to slash benefits by £20 a week, equivalent to £1,040 a year, from 6 October. The exact date people will see the cut kick in will depend on the day they get their Universal Credit payment. For many, this means September will be the last month they see their benefits paid at existing levels.

How many people will be affected?

If plans go ahead, the cut will hit nearly six million people on Universal Credit. This includes 70,525 people in Leicester and across Blaby, Harborough, Hinckley & Bosworth, Melton, North West Leicestershire and Oadby & Wigston. .

According to the latest available figures, approximately 43% of residents set to see their benefits drop, are families with children and 42% are already in work. 

How much could I lose?

While every Universal Credit claim will drop by around £85 a month, the proportion of income claimants will lose will vary depending on their circumstances. Single people under 25 are set to be hit by the biggest drop. Monthly standard allowances will drop by 14% for joint claimants over 25, from £596.58 to £509.91.

What support is available if I’m worried about my income?

You’re not alone and there is support available. Everyone’s situation is different which is why speaking to a trained adviser may be helpful. Depending on your circumstances support could include:

A benefits check

This will help you verify you’re getting all the support you’re entitled to. You can use an online calculator as a starting point.

Support with essential costs

You can contact Leicestershire County Council or Leicester City Council to see if they can give you any extra help from a hardship fund, including food or essential things like clothes. Check your local council on GOV.UK.

Help with debt

Some bills can cause you more problems than others. Rent or mortgage arrears, energy bills and council tax are your priority debts as there can be serious consequences if you don’t pay them. Citizens Advice Leicestershire can provide guidance if you’re struggling with bills.

Free school meals

If you have children and you get certain benefits, you might be able to get free school meals for your children. 

Food bank vouchers

If you can’t afford food you can ask for a referral from Citizens Advice Leicestershire or an organisation that’s already supporting you, for example, a charity, school or children’s centre, for a food bank voucher.

Budgeting advice

If you live in the County, Money Max is our newest service that offers money management advice.

Richard Evans at Citizens Advice LeicesterShire, said:

Many people seeking our advice at the moment are unaware of an impending cut to their Universal Credit. Understandably, when they realise their benefits are set to drop by £20 a week it causes a lot of anxiety.

“If you’re in this position, remember you are not alone and there is support available. As a first step, make sure you’re checking your online journal regularly so you know how much your benefits will reduce by and when. “Citizens Advice LeicesterShire, which is campaigning against the cut, is on hand to help you if you’re worried about making ends meet“.

As a community we need to support all those who are in receipt of Universal Credit. They are some of the most vulnerable members of our society and any support enables the levelling up which this Government is committed to.

Other useful contacts

Macmillan Welfare Benefits – 0300 456 8400

Citizens Advice and Macmillan Cancer Support are working together to provide welfare benefits advice to people affected by cancer.

Mesothelioma Advice – 0800 169 2409

Benefits advice and compensation support for people with asbestos cancer, delivered in partnership with Mesothelioma UK.

Money Advice – 0116 464 7239, Debt and money advice

Specialised debt and money advice service for County residents, supported by The Money Advice Service.

Pension Wise – 0800 134 3944

Free and impartial government service for the over 50s about the different ways you can take money from your pension.

For any more information, please contact Adele Stacey at adele.stacey@citizensadviceleicestershire.org

Adele Stacey

Central Management Team Administrator and Communications Officer

Citizens Advice LeicesterShire