Cost of Living latest: Universal Credit warning as DWP rule change could see 120,000 lose out on benefit payments | The Sun

THOUSANDS on Universal Credit are at risk of losing their benefits due to an upcoming rule change.

The change will impact the Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET), resulting in roughly 120,000 having to look for more work or begin working.

Currently, Universal Credit claimants have to earn the equivalent of 12 hours pay a week, however from January 30 this will increase to 15 hours of minimum wage work.

If the requirements are not met you could be sanctioned, meaning Universal Credit payments being temporarily stopped.

Some will have already been hit as they've had their payments already processed this month.

Read our Cost of Living live blog for the latest news & updates…

  • Louis Allwood

    How will my traditional prepayment meter be credited?

    If you're on a traditional prepayment meter, you'll be given a redeemable energy bill discount voucher or special action message (SAMs) in the first week of each month, issued via SMS text, email or post.

    Customers will then need to redeem these at their usual top-up point.

    Customers of Bulb, E.ON and E.ON Next, EDF, Octopus, Ovo (and SSE), Scottish Power, Shell Energy, Utilita and Utility Warehouse can choose for their voucher to be redeemed on either their gas or electricity meter.

    However, British Gas customers will only be able to redeem their vouchers on their electricity meters.

  • Louis Allwood

    Thousands need to claim energy vouchers soon

    Thousands have just days left to claim £66 energy support vouchers from a £17million pot.

    Millions of households in England, Scotland and Wales are entitled to a £400 energy discount paid over six months.

    The free cash is paid in instalments worth £66 in October and November and £67 between December and March 2023.

    £17million worth of this cash support remains unclaimed from October’s voucher worth £66.

    Customers must redeem their October vouchers before the deadline on Saturday, January 14.

  • Louis Allwood

    Are you eligible for this year’s £900 cost of living payment

    The government is set to provide struggling Brits with £900 in cost of living payments throughout 2023.

    The free cash will be paid out in three instalments and is there to help households with rising food and energy bills.

    To be eligible for the cash you will need to claim one of the following benefits.

    • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
    • Income-related employment and support allowance
    • Income support
    • Pension credit
    • Tax credits (child tax credit and working tax credit)
    • Universal Credit
    • Louis Allwood

      Martin Lewis gives pensioners urgent warning

      Speaking during his TV return the MoneySavingExpert said: "We know what help is coming in the next tax year.

      "If you’re on means-tested benefits and you got the £650 this year it will be £900 in the next tax year.

      "This includes pension credit. There are under a million state pensioners on low incomes entitled to pension credit but not getting it.

      "They will miss out on the £900 they should be getting.

      "If you’re a low-income pensioner or know someone that is, call the pension credit helpline to see if you’re entitled."

    • Louis Allwood

      Quarter of small retailers unable to pay bills in 2023

      According to a survey by Simply Business, 26% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are worried they won’t be able to pay their bills in 2023.

      The survey says 81% of SME owners are worried about how the cost of living crisis will affect their business, and 65% see increasing costs as their biggest challenge in 2023.

      Because of this, 15% of small business owners have no confidence in their companies heading into the new year.

    • Louis Allwood

      How do I find my tax code and how can I change it?

      You can find your tax code in a number of different ways, including:

      • on a "Tax Code Notice" letter from HMRC if you get one
      • on your payslip (this might be online or in paper form)
      • on the HMRC app
      • by checking your tax code for the current year online on your personal tax account

      HMRC should, normally, update your tax code when your income changes. They should receive this information from your employer.

      But sometimes HMRC might not have the correct information and you may be given the wrong tax code.

      Hundreds have just weeks left to apply for free cash

      Local authorities are using cash from the Household Support Fund to pay those that are eligible.

      Residents in Harrow, London, have just weeks left to apply for free cash worth up to £300.

      Harrow Council is offering 750 households one-off cash payments worth £300 direct into their bank accounts.

      But the scheme is only open for eligible residents until January 31, 2023, so you'll need to apply soon.

      Martin Lewis offers four steps to check if you’re overpaying energy bills via direct debit

      Martin Lewis has said that the last big price rise was 27% in October but many direct debits have risen far more.

      Martin Lewis advises you to:

      • Give regular meter readings
      • Use ‘is my DD correct’ calculator
      • If still too high, ask firm to lower it
      • If it won’t then consider variable DD

      Martin Lewis urged workers to check payslip

      Martin Lewis has urged workers to check their tax code for a mistake that could cost you thousands.

      A tax code is used by your employer or pension provider to work out how much income tax to take from your pay or pension.

      The money saving team said millions are on the wrong one and could be either overpaying or underpaying.

      So while this means you might get money back from the tax man if you've overpaid, you might also have to pay some back if you've underpaid.

      • Louis Allwood

        How much is Child Benefit set to rise by?

        Parents are set for an increase in their Child Benefit payments come April, but how much could you be set to receive?

        Well, the current rate for your eldest or only child is £21.80 per week. That’s £87.20 a month or £1,133.60 a year.

        From April 2023 the rate for your eldest or only child will go up to £24 a week – or £96 a month and £1,248 a year.

        This is an increase of £2.20 a week, £8.80 a month and £114.40 a year.

        On top of this, your younger children will get £14.45 a week – £57.80 a month and £751.40 a year.

        Find out more here.

      • Louis Allwood

        How to report a missing Cost of Living Payment

        If you think you should have received a cost of living payment and cannot see it in your bank, building society or credit union account, then there is a way to report the missing cash.

        You can make the government aware of your missing payments if they are one of the following.

        • £326 paid in July 2022 for most people
        • £324 paid in November 2022 for most people
        • £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment paid in September 2022 for most people

        All relevant information can be found here –

        Remember – Do not report the same missing payment more than once. You will receive a reply as soon as possible.

        Are you eligible for this year’s £900 cost of living payment

        The government is set to provide struggling Brits with £900 in cost of living payments throughout 2023.

        The free cash will be paid out in three instalments and is there to help households with rising food and energy bills.

        To be eligible for the cash you will need to claim one of the following benefits.

        • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
        • Income-related employment and support allowance
        • Income support
        • Pension credit
        • Tax credits (child tax credit and working tax credit)
        • Universal Credit

        The following benefits on their own won’t qualify you for the £900 one-off cost of living payment:

        • Attendance allowance
        • Carer’s allowance
        • Child benefit
        • Disability living allowance (DLA)
        • Contributory, or “new style”, employment and support allowance (ESA)
        • Guardian’s allowance
        • Contribution-based, or “new style”, jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)
        • Maternity allowance
        • Personal independence payment
        • State pension
        • Statutory adoption, maternity, paternity and shared parental pay
        • Statutory sick pay

        Eight vital energy checks you need to do now, according to Martin Lewis

        Money saving expert Martin Lewis has warned households about eight vital energy checks to do now as bills rise.

        It comes as millions of households are set to see their energy bills hike in April.

        Here’s a look at the eight vital energy checks you should do now.

        • Check if your energy prices changed on January 1
        • Check if you’re overpaying by direct debit
        •  Check if you’re eligible for the new cost of living payments
        •  Get ready to apply for £400 energy bill support later this month
        • Check if you need to apply for the £200 alternative fuel payment
        • Check if you’re due £600 in government support next month
        • Check if you need to redeem any energy discount vouchers
        • Check if you can get help through supplier grants

        Find out more about Martin’s money saving tips here.

        How to check which benefits you could claim

        This year, the government is providing over £1,500 in cost of living help to struggling Brits.

        But in order to claim this cash, you will need be eligible for certain benefits.

        The quickest way to see what benefits you may be able to claim is to use one of the three benefit calculators recommended by Gov.UK.

        Each one is free to use. They are: 

        • Turn2us
        • Policy in Practice
        • EntitledTo

        How to get free appliances this winter

        Brits are only now finding out they can get their hands on free home appliances with this handy government scheme.

        Utilita is giving its customers appliances worth up to £400 if they are eligible for the Warm Home Discount.

        The Warm Home Discount is available to those on the lowest incomes to help the soaring cost of living in Britain.

        The goods are available to around 5,500 customers.

        Eligible households have been contacted directly by Utilita.

        • Louis Allwood

          How to make £1,000 in 2023 with 11 easy steps

          Energy bills and food costs have soared for millions of families, and it means people’s hard-earned cash isn’t going as far.

          But there are some ways to make a bit of extra dough if you’re struggling to get by.

          Consumer champion website Which? has revealed 11 handy tips that you can use to boost your income this year, and some might surprise you.

          • Switch your bank account
          • Boost your savings
          • Share your skills
          • Sell your old clothes
          • Make cash from trash
          • Make money from your car or driveway
          • Do a benefit check
          • Try cashback sites
          • Rent out your old belongings
          • Flog your old books, CDs and…Lego
          • Carry out surveys and tasks

          Find out more about each of the money-making tips here.

          Do a benefits check to see if you could be owed cash

          Over seven million households could be missing out on extra help from the government.

          That includes through council tax discounts, pension credit and Universal Credit.

          So it’s worth doing a quick check to see what you might be eligible for.

          Websites like Entitled To have tools that you can use to find out what you could be in line for.

          Martin Lewis offers advice on best time to contact energy companies

          Speaking to This Morning, Martin Lewis revealed the best time to contact your energy provider.

          Martin said: "Now my advice on getting in contact with energy firms if you're having problems is to call later on in the afternoon. Mornings tend to be the busiest times – don't bother calling in the morning you will be on hold much longer.

          "I would try and call sometime between 15.30 and 16.30. Clearly, today, because other people will be listening to this, and they may be doing it too – it may be busier than normal.

          "But that's the time I would try and approach if you're having trouble getting in touch with the utility provider – I'd be trying to call them sometime in the later afternoon but not before they close."

          Millions to be faced with huge council tax bills

          Local authorities have been told they can hike bills by up to 5% this year.

          Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the news in his Autumn Budget last November.

          Previously local authorities were only allowed to raise council tax by 2.99%.

          The announcement from the government could see 255 districts charging more than £2,000 a year on average to families in Band D homes, according to new analysis by The Telegraph and TaxPayers’ Alliance.

          Price hikes

          Shoppers are facing huge price increases on everyday essentials, with food prices up by 16.4 per cent — the highest in 45 years.

          And Morrisons has raised its prices more than any other major supermarket, according to a report by credit agency Moody's.

          It said the supermarket giant started raising the cost of products at a "rapid pace" from June onwards.

          Discounters Aldi and Lidl also increased prices but at a slower rate than Morrisons, the report said.

          But since mid-October, Moody's said Morrisons' pricing began to improve and that its prices are increasing less than the broader market.

          4 quick tips for reducing energy bills

          First of all, he reminded viewers that it is essential to provide suppliers with regular meter readings, so that the price you pay is not based on estimates, which can lead to being overcharged.

          If you still think you are overpaying, you can use an online direct debit calculator, which will work out how much you should be charged based on usage.

          Once this is done, Lewis recommended "politely" calling your supplier to query the charge, which will often see them reduce your bill.

          He said that the calculator results have been "very powerful" in getting people's bills down in his experience.

          Finally, if you still think you are overpaying, you can ask to move on a variable direct debit, where you pay precisely based on what you use.

          This eliminates the "smoothing effect" which sees bills staying roughly similar all year round, instead seeing customers pay higher in the winter when they use more, but less in the summer.

          • Louis Allwood

            News you can use

            You can not change water provider, however Martin Lewis has given advice on how to reduce costs.

            Martin Lewis has stated that if there are more or the same bedrooms than people in your home then you may benefit from a free water meter.

          • Louis Allwood

            Bench mark deals

            The money saving expert claims the "bench mark deals" people should be aiming for are as low as £18.99.

            These deals are half the price compared to the average amount that most are spending.

          • Louis Allwood

            Marin Lewis advice

            Get on the phone and see if you can get a better deal.

            If you do not get given a deal then ask to speak to customer disconnections which is internally known as 'customer retention' which is where you can get the deals from.

          • Louis Allwood

            Time for some broadband deals

            Martin Lewis has said you need to check you broadband annually.

            The Money saving expert is giving broadband advice after "prices are set to rise by 15%".

            Many can half their price and double their speed as seven million are out of contract according to the expert.

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