Households are to get extra financial support worth up to £2,000 this year. As the cost of living crisis deepens through these bitterly cold winter months with energy bills rocketing, many struggling families will be hoping for some extra help as soon as possible.
The Government has promised more for those on the lowest incomes, including working families, vulnerable and disabled people, and pensioners. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: "I know these are tough times for families across the UK who are struggling to meet rising food and energy costs, driven by the aftershocks of Covid and Putin’s war in Ukraine."
As part of that, the levels of all state support - including benefits, allowances, tax credits, sick pay and the State Pension - are to go up by 10.1 per cent from April. This includes Universal Credit, the main benefit paid to those of working age. On top of that will be five new cost of living payments spread across the next financial year and a continuation of the energy rebate for its final three months.
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All DWP and HMRC payments are to go up in April, including tax credits, the State Pension, Child Benefit and all other Government social security amounts. Universal Credit elements will get a rise as part of that.
Latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show there are 5.8 million people claiming Universal Credit, with 2.2 million of those having a job and getting the benefit to top up their wages. Half of the households on Universal Credit have children.
The average payment of Universal Credit per month ranges from £580 for single people with no children up to £1,060 for couples with children, according to Gov.UK statistics. That's all set to change from next April - here are the payment boosts and other financial support you can expect in the next financial year.
Exact amounts will vary depending on your claim but, as an example, a working couple over 25 with two children will get around £100 extra every month in Universal Credit. More is awarded if children have disabilities or for having limited capability for work. And those with children will be eligible for Child Benefit on top too. The Universal Credit rises are as follows:
Standard monthly allowance Single under 25 - increasing from £265.31 to £292.11 Single 25 or over - increasing from £334.91 to £368.74 Couple both under 25 - increasing from £416.45 to £458.51 Couple one or both 25 or over - increasing from £525.72 to £578.82
Child amounts First child (born prior to 6 April 2017) - increasing from £290 to £315 First child (born on or after 6 April 2017) / second child and subsequent child (where an exception or transitional provision applies) - increasing from £244.58 to £269.58
Disabled child additions Lower rate addition - increasing from £132.89 to £146.31 Higher rate addition - increasing from £414.88 to £456.89
LCW/LCWRA Limited Capability for Work amount - increasing from £132.89 to £146.31 Limited Capability for Work and Work-Related Activity amount - increasing from £354.28 to £390.06
Carer amount Increasing from £168.81 to £185.86
For a complete guide to other benefit payment rises, see our full list here
The Government has decided to raise the benefit cap from next April, meaning people who are out of work can keep more of their payments rather than having sums deducted. The cap, designed so claimants are not better off on state support without working, hadn't been increased since it was introduced in 2013 and was lowered to its current level in 2016, with campaigners calling for it to be revised to match the current cost of living crisis.
Universal Credit is among the benefits affected by the cap. Others include Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Child Benefit, and Child Tax Credit. You can read more on the benefit cap increases and what it means for you here.
This is paid to all households with a domestic electricity account so it will include those who are receiving Universal Credit. The £400 energy rebate began in October 2022 and is continuing into 2023, with energy firms paying customers £67 this January and again in February and March before it all comes to a close.
How you get the three payments of £67 depends on the way you pay for your energy. Those who pay by direct debit will usually get it as a monthly payment reduction or as a refund into their bank account. Smart prepayment meter customers will see the discount credited directly to their meters and those on traditional prepayment meters customers will be sent vouchers to redeem at their local top-up points.
The Government says the scheme will not continue into the next financial year but is instead looking at the introduction of a new social tariff sometime in 2024 to help those on the lowest incomes. It is expected to lower bills by around £1,000.
A further round of financial support for struggling households will be paid out in the next financial year. Around eight million UK households on means-tested benefits will receive an additional cost of living payment of £900 in 2023-24. It will be made in three instalments.
Details and dates for this payment have yet to be announced. Those who are also on a disability benefit will get an additional one-off sum of £150, while pensioners will once again get an extra £300 on top of their Winter Fuel Payment.
Exact payment windows will be announced closer to the time, but are broadly as follows:£301 – First Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2023 £150 – Disability Payment – during Summer 2023 £300 – Second Cost of Living Payment – during Autumn 2023 £300 – Pensioner Payment – during Winter 2023/4 £299 – Third Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2024
This is a payment to your electricity account that can be made anytime between October 2022 and March 2023. In a shake-up to the scheme this winter, people in England no longer have to apply to their energy firm on a first-come, first-served basis. Instead, the DWP is deciding who gets the discount and is limiting it to people on means-tested benefits, such as Universal Credit, who have high energy costs - calculated using the age, type and size of their property, or based on its Energy Performance Certificate. The amount paid out has also been increased from the previous £140.
Eligible claimants will receive a letter telling them about the discount and most will get it automatically applied to their bill by March 31, 2023. If you do not get a letter by mid-January 2023 and you think you are eligible, phone the Warm Home Discount helpline on 0800 107 8002 before February 28, 2023.
If there is more freezing weather up until the end of March 2023, then more Cold Weather Payments will be due. These are paid out for every seven-day period when the average temperature in your area is recorded as (or forecast to be), zero degrees C, by your nearest weather station.
Universal Credit is among the qualifying benefits as long as you are not employed or self-employed. One of the following must also apply:you have a health condition or disability and have limited capability for work (with or without work-related activity) you have a child under 5 living with you
You will also be eligible if you have a disabled child amount in your claim, whether you're employed or not. You can check whether a Cold Weather Payment has been triggered in your area on the Government website - if it has, you will receive it in your account within 14 days. Many people have already received one or two payments of £25 from the very cold weather in December and January, some are in line for three payments totalling £75.
If you live in Scotland, you no longer get Cold Weather Payments but could get an annual £50 Winter Heating Payment instead, regardless of weather conditions in your area. Payments for this will start to be made in February 2023.
This could all mean around £2,000 extra coming this year. Discuss your benefits and bills and get tips and help on our Cost of Living UK Facebook page and check if you are entitled to any state support here as £15billion is believed to be going unclaimed.