Universal Credit Reform: 180,000 Claimants Face Increased Work Requirements

The UK's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has introduced a significant reform to Universal Credit, requiring approximately 180,000 claimants to work at least 18 hours per week at the National Living Wage to maintain their benefits, sparking concerns over financial insecurity and mental stress for vulnerable individuals. The reform, part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Back to Work Plan, aims to help more people off benefits and into work, but critics argue it will disproportionately affect those with chronic health conditions or disabilities." This description focuses on the primary topic of the Universal Credit reform, the main entities involved (DWP, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Universal Credit claimants), and the context of the UK's welfare system. It also highlights the significant actions and consequences of the reform, including the potential impact on vulnerable individuals. The description provides objective and relevant details that will guide the AI in creating an accurate visual representation of the article's content.

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Universal Credit Reform: 180,000 Claimants Face Increased Work Requirements

Universal Credit Reform: 180,000 Claimants Face Increased Work Requirements

The UK's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has introduced a significant reform to Universal Credit, affecting approximately 180,000 claimants. Starting May 13, 2024, these individuals will be required to work at least 18 hours per week at the National Living Wage to maintain their benefits, sparking concerns over financial insecurity and mental stress for vulnerable individuals.

Why this matters: This reform has far-reaching implications for the welfare system, potentially affecting millions of people who rely on Universal Credit. The consequences of this change could lead to increased poverty and destitution, particularly among those with chronic health conditions or disabilities, if not implemented with proper support and resources.

The reform is a result of the latest rise in the Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET), which means claimants working less than 18 hours per week will need to boost their wages or face losing their benefits. Affected claimants will move into the Intensive Work Search group, requiring them to meet with jobcentre staff more regularly to plan their job progression and increase their earnings.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated, "Welfare should always be a safety net and not a lifestyle choice, which is why we're ushering in a new era of welfare reforms to help more people progress off benefits and into work." The government has invested £2.5 billion into the scheme, aiming to help more people off benefits and into meaningful work. The DWP expects those who can work to engage with the support available or face losing their benefits.

The change is part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Back to Work Plan, which aims to help more people off benefits and into work. The government claims that over 400,000 people have been brought into intensive job centre support since 2022. Couples will be counted together, with slightly different rules applying to them.

However, the reform has sparked concerns over financial insecurity and mental stress for vulnerable individuals, particularly those with chronic health conditions or disabilities. Iain Porter, senior policy adviser for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, criticized the move, saying, "This is clearly an opportunity for the government to sound tough, but it is on the backs of people who are already facing huge challenges financially as well as with their health."

Critics argue that the move will disproportionately affect those already facing huge challenges, with nearly four million people experiencing destitution in recent years. As of April 2024, there were 6.7 million people on Universal Credit in Great Britain, with 77.5% from the white ethnic group and 22.5% from other high-level ethnic groups combined. The proportion of people in the "no work requirements" conditionality regime has increased, reaching 37% in April 2024.

The Universal Credit reform, set to take effect on May 13, 2024, marks a significant change in the UK's welfare system. While the government aims to help more people progress off benefits and into work, concerns remain over the potential impact on vulnerable individuals already facing financial insecurity and health challenges. As the reform is implemented, close monitoring will be crucial to ensure that those in need of support are not left behind.

Key Takeaways

  • 180,000 Universal Credit claimants must work 18+ hours/week at National Living Wage to maintain benefits from May 13, 2024.
  • Affected claimants will move into Intensive Work Search group, meeting with jobcentre staff more regularly.
  • Gov't invests £2.5 billion to help people off benefits and into work, part of PM's Back to Work Plan.
  • Critics warn of financial insecurity and mental stress for vulnerable individuals, especially those with chronic health conditions.
  • Reform sparks concerns over disproportionate impact on those already facing huge challenges, including nearly 4 million experiencing destitution.