During what is becoming a difficult time for Brits financially – and one that's set to get worse amid the cost of living crisis – millions will be wary of losing out on their Universal Credit.
With a looming National Insurance tax hike, a continued rise in inflation and energy bills soaring by 54% to record levels, the scheme will be a lifeline for millions of households across the country.
The vital Universal Credit payments would devastate those who could lose out on them, particularly as times get more difficult and new rule changes put in place by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) take effect.
There are a number of reasons people on the scheme could face sanctions, and people now face much harder circumstances than before.
So what are the reasons Universal Credit could be cut?
What are the reasons my Universal Credit could be stopped?
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There are four main reasons your Universal Credit could stop. It is important to be aware of them going forward to make sure people on the scheme do not fall foul of the restrictions.
New rules were recently announced and are now in place.
Understanding Universal Credit explained: "If you fail to do what you have agreed in your Claimant Commitment without good reason, your Universal Credit payments may be reduced for a set period. This is known as a sanction.
"There are different levels of sanctions and they’re decided based on the reason for the sanction. If you have had previous sanctions, this may mean new sanctions will be for a longer period."
Not looking for work or refusing a job when on Universal Credit
One of the requirements people on Universal Credit have is to look for a new job as soon as they can. They do so through a Claim Commitment, which means that 35 hours of their week should be spent looking for work.
Not applying for anything may cause a Jobcentre coach to recommend sanctions.
People who refuse a job offer should note that claimants deemed to be capable of work are now only being given four weeks to find a job in their chosen field. After this, they will have to look elsewhere.
This time period was previously three months, but the DWP cut this to try to get people working no matter what.
You need to have a good reason to quit your job to continue claiming benefits without being sanctioned.
The following are generally considered good reasons to quit a job:
- Zero-hours contract
- Unsafe working conditions
- Being paid below the minimum wage
- Voluntary redundancy
- Bullying or harassment at work
People who receive a sanction for leaving their job must prove one of the above applied to them. Evidence could be provided by payslips showing low wages, photos of unsafe working conditions and messages between you and your employer or union about your resignation.
Parents can also leave because of childcare commitments but will need to prove that their job made it impossible to care for their children.
What happens if I skip my Jobcentre appointment?
To claim Universal Credit, people need to agree to regular meetings with a Jobcentre adviser. Turning up late to the meeting without a good reason will mean sanctions.
People can cancel or change an appointment by visiting the government website here.
Not updating information
Depending on their circumstances, people are allocated a different amount of Universal Credit and must keep their information up to date.
This information could be anything from getting a new job, moving flats or having another child.
Failure to update these details will result in a sanction. In extreme cases, there can be legal action brought against suspected benefit fraud.
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