Universal Credit claimants could risk losing more than £1,000 of benefits under new plans being trialled by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

The new plans would see claimants attend an intensive two week programme with a work coach to try and get them back into employment.

Currently, meetings between claimants and work coaches happen once a week for the first three months and then every two weeks after that.

However, the planned change would impact those who have been unemployed for more than three months, and those who refuse to follow the new rules could lose their standard allowance for up to three months.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

The Times reports that it could cost someone on Universal Credit £334.91 per month, or £1,004.

The new rule is currently being trialled in four areas, Crawley in West Sussex, Pontefract in West Yorkshire, Partick in Glasgow, and Coalville in Leicestershire.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride told MPs in each area that certain people on Universal Credit were exempt from the programme.

Those people include anyone waiting for work-capability assessments, those required to do less than 35 hours a week of work search activity, and anyone already exempt from searching for jobs.

The Times reports him saying: “Evidence shows that the longer a person is out of work the harder it is for them to return, and it is at this 13-week point that a claimant’s likelihood of securing employment begins to decrease.”

A DWP spokesman said: “In the first half of 2022 we supported half a million benefit claimants into work and our recent changes to Universal Credit will build on this by providing hundreds of thousands more with intensive support to get better-paid work and boost long-term prospects.”

Universal Credit claimants eligible for £900 cost of living boost

The new £900 cash boost for over eight million eligible means-tested benefits claimants, including those on Universal Credit, Pension Credit and tax credits, starts in Spring and will go direct to bank accounts in three payments over the course of the financial year.

When will DWP cost of living payments be paid?

Exact payment windows and qualifying periods for eligibility will be announced in due course, but are designed to ensure a consistent support offer throughout the year. Payment windows will be broadly as follows:

£301 – First 2023/24 Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2023

£150 – 2023 Disability Payment – during Summer 2023

£300 – Second 2023/24 Cost of Living Payment – during Autumn 2023

£300 – 2023 Pensioner Payment – during Winter 2023/4

£299 – Third 2023/24 Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2024