Covid-19 and increased support
Some 1.5 million people have now applied for Universal Credit since the government advised people to stay at home due to coronavirus, according to the latest figures. This is likely to rise due to the number of claims that are unprocessed. As of 9 April 2020, a total of 4.2 million people were in receipt of Universal Credit.
In this article I thought I would explore the fundamentals of Universal Credit. I would stress that this is a complex area and further guidance should be sought with Job Centre Plus/Citizens Advice or via the Government website.
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a payment that is made to help with living costs and is usually paid monthly.
Universal credit is replacing the following benefits:
• Child tax credit;
• Housing benefit;
• Income support;
• Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA);
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA);
• Working tax credit.
What will you receive?
Universal Credit comprises of a standard allowance and any extra amounts that you apply for depending whether for example you have children, a disability or health condition that prevents you from working or need help with paying rent etc.
There is a benefits calculator (https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators) to see what you are entitled to.
Standard monthly allowance (this has been increased from 6 April 2020)
Single and under 25 – £342.72
Single and 25 or over – £409.89
In a couple and both under 25 – £488.59 (for you both)
In a couple and 25 or over – £594.04 (for you both)
Support for rental payments
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has significantly increased support for housing rental payments. From April 2020 local housing allowance rates will cover at least 30% of market rents in each area. It is worth noting that the housing element of Universal Credit can be used to cover mortgage interest and even service charges.
Universal credit minimum income floor
With effect from 13 March 2020, and for new applicants, the minimum income floor for the self-employed requirement is being temporarily relaxed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
If you have children, you will get an extra amount for each child.
For your first child £281.25 (born before 6 April 2017)
£235.83 (born on or after 6 April 2017)
For your second child and any other £235.83 per child
For a disabled or severely disabled child £128.25 or £400.29
Up to 85% of childcare cost is increased for 2019/20 to £646.35 per month for one child and £1,108.04 per month for two or more children.
Those that receive Universal Credit may also be entitled to other financial support; dependent upon personal circumstances.
Have your tax affairs in order pre-release
Remember to contact The Tax Academy CIC to review your tax affairs to ensure they are up to date. There is nothing worse than being released from prison and finding that you have tax penalties and tax debt that need to be resolved with HMRC.
Please contact Paul Retout from The Tax Academy CIC on 01824 704535 or write to me, The Tax Academy CIC, Unit 4 Ffordd Yr Onnen, Lon Parcwr Business Park, Ruthin, Denbighshire LL15 1NJ.