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The benefit changes mentioned below apply to England, Scotland and
Wales. Most of the changes also apply in Northern Ireland although
there may be differences in the date when this happens.
All new claims for means-tested benefits and
tax credits for people of working age have been replaced by a new
Universal Credit. The only exception
to this is some disabled adults who already get a payment known as
the severe disability premium as part of a means-tested benefit.
They are exempt from Universal Credit and can still make new claims
for the old benefits that Universal Credit has replaced.
The government also intends to move existing claimants of
means-tested benefits and tax credits onto Universal Credit. This
will happen gradually and will start with a pilot of around 10,000
claimants from July 2019. Most existing claimants are not expected
to move onto Universal Credit until some point between 2020 and
We concerned that many families with disabled children will be
worse off on Universal Credit over time.
Universal Credit work allowances
If you are a Universal Credit claimant who has a dependent
child, or you are treated as having a limited capability for work,
part of your earnings are ignored as income for Universal Credit.
This is known as your 'work allowance'.
From April the amount of your work allowance will increase by
£1,000 a year, meaning that Universal Credit will be slightly more
generous for some disabled workers and working parents.
Mixed age couples and Universal Credit
If you are a couple where one partner is at least pension credit
age and the other is of working age, you can currently claim
Pension Credit and other legacy benefits rather than Universal
Credit. However from 15 May, any mixed age couples who try to make
a new claim will have to claim Universal Credit instead. Many mixed
age couples will be much worse off under Universal Credit than if
they claimed under Pension Credit, so should get advice before
Reduction in Universal Credit loan
If you ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit while
awaiting for your claim to start, you must pay this money back once
your Universal Credit award starts. The amount that is recovered
will reduce from October 2019.