BENEFITS EXPERT: Changes to benefits brought in during Covid 19 lockdown
The column this week is to provide an update to certain benefit changes/rule suspensions, etc. that were introduced during lockdown/pandemic and will now be coming to an end or are expected to end at later date.
Please as always be aware things may change either as a result of possible government u-turns or if pandemic control measures have to be extended, so as always keep an eye on the news.
The change most people will be aware of is the ending of the £20/week uplift for Universal Credit, the government have confirmed this will end in October, there has been no indication of a date however, this may mean that your October UC payment will be the last time you get the £20, it could mean that your October payment of UC will not include the £20, the government press release is quite vague on this point. We understand some UC claimants have already been notified via their journals before the government confirmed the uplift was ending. One final point to also consider is the government are still getting petitions, lobbying, etc. to keep the uplift in payment to assist people and aid in economic recovery so it may change due to pressure followed by a u-turn.
For anyone self-employed and claiming UC the rules regarding calculating income from self-employment along with the suspension of minimum income floor (MIF) are ending. Pre-pandemic rules will apply from 1/8/2021 but again some of the guidance currrently available is somewhat vague and the position may change or be clarified at a later date. MIF was a method of calculating self-employed earnings, in essence irrespective of your earnings if you were self-employed your earnings were assumed to be 35 hours/week at national minimum wage, even if you earned nowhere near this amount. MIF didn't apply for new self-employed persons, the rules only took affect after 12 months of being self-employed. During lockdown MIF was suspended, the start up period was extended for established businesses.
Again the government have advised pre-pandemic rules apply from 1/8/2021 but there is some indication this will be a gradual introduction to prevent a sudden decrease in UC payments. The current position re MIF can be viewed here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-and-self-employment-quick-guide/universal-credit-and-self-employment-quick-guide and will likely be updated so remeber to check this weekly