Five ways to get help if you're worried about the Universal Credit payment cut

UNIVERSAL Credit claimants who are worried about the upcoming cut to their monthly payments can apply for help.

The £80 a month increase, which was introduced to help hard-up families during the coronavirus crisis, will end in October.

It means millions of households across the UK will lose the boost just after the furlough scheme comes to an end.

How much you'll lose depends on your individual circumstances, with single people under 25 to be hit with the biggest drop.

Their monthly standard allowance – the amount all Universal credit claimants are entitled to – will fall by a quarter, from £344 to £257.33.

Meanwhile, the allowance will drop by 14% for joint claimants over 25 – from £596.58 to £509.91.

Charity Turn2Us has previously warned that the removal of uplift could see 500,000 people "pulled into poverty overnight".

If you're worried about how to get by financially after the extra support is axed, Citizens Advice has rounded up five ways to get help.

1. Do a benefits check

It's easy to miss out on benefits by not claiming the ones you're entitled to.

To make sure you get all the support available, you can use free benefits calculators online.

Just make sure you have any financial information to hand, such as bank and savings statements, and information on pensions and existing benefits.

Once you've used the tools you can use the contact information on to get the ball rolling and apply for what you're owed.

Alternatively, you can contact your local Citizens Advice and ask for help.

2. Help with essential costs

Councils are handing out hundreds of pounds to help struggling families with essentials costs, such as food and bills.

How much you can get varies depending on where you live and how much support you need.

Last month, an investigation by The Sun found that households have received up to £1,587 under the Covid Local Support Grant.

The maximum was given to four families in Wokingham who needed help paying for roof and boiler repairs.

Meanwhile, in York, struggling families have received up to £370 for food and £450 towards energy bills.

The scheme has been extended to run until the end of September. You can find your council on the government website.

3. Support with debt

Some bills can cause you more problems than others if you don't pay them, with rent, mortgage and council tax important to prioritise.

If you're struggling, make sure not to stick your head in the sand and ask for help.

Below we round up a few services, which offer free advice on how to manage debt.

Most of them can offer you free guidance and help in person, over the telephone or online.

  • Money Advice Service – 0800 138 7777
  • Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060
  • StepChange – 0800 138 1111
  • National Debtline – 0808 808 4000

They can also help you take the next steps if you need a debt management plan (DMP) or an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA). 

These are agreements for managing multiple debts.

4. Free school meals

In England and Scotland, children in reception, year 1 and year 2, and who attend a state school, are automatically entitled to free school meals.

For school children across the UK in year 3 and older, their families may be entitled to free school meals if they get certain benefits.

New claims made from April 2018 in England must come from households earning up to £7,400 a year after tax, excluding any benefits.

The rules are the same in Scotland and Wales, but in Northern Ireland, the household income threshold is £14,000.

In England, you must also be claiming one of the following benefits:

  • Income support
  • Jobseeker's allowance (JSA)
  • Employment and support allowance (JSA)
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and asylum act 1999
  • Pension credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credit
  • Universal Credit

How you claim the free school meals depends on where you live, but some districts let you apply online.

Start by entering your postcode into the website to see what the process is for your council.

5. Food bank vouchers

If you can't afford to buy food, you may be able to get a food bank voucher.

To get one, you'll need a referral from a charity such as Citizens Advice, or other frontline professionals, which could be doctors and social workers.

They'll give you one if they think you need emergency food.

You can find your nearest Citizens Advice by checking its website.

Millions of Brits rely on the benefits system to cover essential costs, but simple mistakes could result in their payments being stopped.

Thousands of self-employed workers on Universal Credit could see their payments cut this month as the minimum income floor is reintroduced.

We round up six major changes coming up that could affect your finances this year – from Universal Credit payments to coronavirus help.

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