DWP introduce major change to Universal Credit rules this month that could affect payments | Personal Finance | Finance


The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is introducing new rules which come into play September 26. The new rules will see Universal Credit claimants with no earnings or earnings below the Administration Earnings Threshold (AET) be put in the Intensive Work Search regime. Under the current system, people are still encouraged to make more money so they don’t need the top-up from Universal Credit, but the rules are less tight than for those who are out of work.

The Administration Earnings Threshold will rise from £355 to £494 a month for single claimants.

For couples, it is to increase from £567 to £782.

The DWP estimated that the change is to move around 114,000 claimants who are currently in the Light Touch regime across to the Intensive Work Search regime.

DWP guidance on the rules said: “Since its introduction in 2013, the AET has not kept pace with the increases in the National Living Wage, with the result that the number of hours needed to work to earn the AET has fallen over time.

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“The adjustment will bring the AET back to its original parity with the National Living Wage.”

At present, the wage is set at £9.50 per hour for those aged 23 and over.

The new AET is the equivalent of an individual working for around 12-14 hours a week, or a couple working for around 20-22 hours a week between them.

People in the Intensive Work Search regime will have to attend mandatory face-to-face work search reviews at their local job centre.


The Intensive Work Search regime requires those on it to undertake these work-related activities for a maximum of 35 hours every week. 

However, the DWP stated that this can be adjusted for those with health conditions or caring responsibilities.

In addition to checking compliance, the reviews will check if a person has a “robust plan” in place” to meet the requirements of the DWP.

Claimants could also be asked to go to skills assessments, develop a business plan or research childcare costs.

The Government document states that if a claimant fails to meet their requirements “without good reason” a sanction will apply.

The DWP stated that those who have been affected by the change will be contacted beforehand. 

Former work and pensions secretary, Therese Coffey stated that the change was to “help claimants get quickly back into the world of work while helping ensure employers get the people they and the economy needs.”

A key change to the DWP policy in January of this year saw a reduction in the time given to jobseekers to find a position in their chosen/desired field.

Coming into force in February, claimants have now just four weeks to find a position compared to the three months that they had before.

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