Campaigners had been hoping for an end to the controversial scheme, with Labour promising to scrap Universal Credit altogether.
Here’s the timetable of what will be happening – see how it will affect you.
1. April 2020 – End of benefit freeze
The end to the benefit freeze would mean Universal Credit and other working age benefits rising by 1.7 per cent from April 2020.
The increase means someone on £1,000 a month in benefits will get an extra £17, equivalent to £204 over a year. Those receiving £500 a month get an extra £8.50.
But according to think-tank the Resolution Foundation, families will still be hundreds of pounds a year worse off due to the past five years of bills rising while benefits have remained at the same level.
2. April 2020 – Pension changes
This is expected to be announced in the Budget.
In addition, the qualifying age for men and women will rise to 66 in October 2020.
It means anyone born after October 5, 1954, will have a state pension age of at least 66.
And there will be further rises too. The Conservatives have set out plans to increase the state pension age to 67 by 2028 and 68 by 2039.
3. April 2020 – Disability benefit changes
The Scottish Government is taking on responsibility for disability benefits from April 1 and will implement changes after that.
In summer 2020, Social Security Scotland will open to claims for the brand new Disability Assistance for Children and Young People, which is Scotland’s replacement for Child Disability Living Allowance.
By the end of 2020, Social Security Scotland will also open to claims for the new Disability Assistance for Older People. This is the Scottish replacement for Attendance Allowance and is for people over the state pension age who need someone to help look after them because of a disability or long-term illness.
Also by the end of 2020, children who receive the highest care component of Disability Assistance will be entitled to Winter Heating Assistance.
Further changes will come in 2021, including PIP being replaced by Disability Assistance for Working Age People and Carer’s Allowance being replaced by Carer’s Assistance.
There will be rolling awards with no set end points and those with fluctuating health conditions will not face additional reviews due to changes in their needs.
She said: ““Since the Social Security Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June , progress has been swift.
“We have a duty to quickly reform the parts of the current system which cause stress, anxiety and pain. And I have been moved by the personal stories I have heard, many of which criticise the penalising assessment process.”
Ms Somerville added: “This is not simply a case of turning off one switch and turning on another. For the first time in its history, our agency will be making regular payments, direct to people’s bank accounts and our systems need to work seamlessly with those of the DWP.
“It is therefore essential we have a system that is fully operational for those making new claims and ensure we protect everyone and their payments as their cases are transferred – that is what those who rely on social security support have told us they want. We must work to a timetable that reflects the importance of moving quickly but not putting people’s payments at risk.”
During the transfer no-one will have to reapply for benefits, no claims will be reassessed and payments will be protected.
She added: “The timetable I have set out is ambitious but realistic and at all points protects people and their payments. I have seen the mess the DWP has made when transferring people to PIP and introducing Universal Credit, and we will not make the same mistakes.
“There is much hard work to be done but the prize is great – a social security system with dignity, fairness and respect at its heart and which works for the people of Scotland.”
4. June 2020 – TV licence changes
From June 1, a new scheme means you can only carry on getting a free licence if you – or your partner – are receiving Pension Credit.
If not, you’ll have to fork out the cost of a TV licence – which is £154.50 per year for a colour TV, and £52 for black and white. You can choose to pay monthly (£12.87 a month), quarterly (£39.87 every three months) or yearly.
So it’s worth checking if you can get Pension Credit to avoid the licence fee.
Pension Credit is a top-up benefit payment available if you or your partner have reached state pension age, or if one of you is getting housing benefit for people over pension age. You get more if you’re responsible for a child or young person who lives with you and is under the age of 20.
There are two elements to Pension Credit. Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income if it’s below £167.25 (for single people) or £255.25 (for couples), while Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement and is up to £13.73 for single people and up to £15.35 for couples.
5. July 2020 – Universal Credit transition protection extended
From July 22, claimants are to get an additional two weeks of income-related Jobseekers Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or Income Support if they receive one of these benefits when moving across to Universal Credit.
Universal Credit is intended to replace six existing benefits in total.
Everyone else on the six old benefits will have to move across in a managed migration scheme by the DWP that is set to be completed by December 2023 and is currently being tried out in Harrogate from July 2019 to July 2020.
Normally, existing benefits are terminated when a Universal Credit claim begins but the Government has amended the rules to allows a “two-week run-on” of the three benefits named above.
6. September 2020 – Universal Credit change for self employed
The DWP works out Universal Credit for self-employed people using what’s called a Minimum Income Floor (MIF).
It can mean Universal Credit is calculated on a higher level of earnings than you were actually paid.
And from September 2020, this 12-month exclusion period will also not apply to “those who are naturally migrated in self-employment and all those existing UC claimants who become new gainfully self-employed.”
‘Naturally migrated’ means switched across to Universal Credit because of a change in circumstances.
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