Universal Credit increase 2024 - here are the 3 most important things families need to know

Some people are only just reaping the benefit of the Universal Credit increase 2024 - we explain why that is, and what you need to know about this benefit if you are a parent

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A Universal Credit increase came into effect earlier this year, giving those who claim this benefit a boost to help with the cost of living.

Benefits rise with inflation in April each year, which is known as benefit uprating. A formal review is carried out by the Department of Work and Pensions every October, and the September inflation figure is used to decide how much benefits will go up in April the following year. This uprating applies to a range of benefits, including Universal Credit and child benefit.

According to government data, there were 6.7 million people claiming Universal Credit as of April 2024, and that half of all households that received a Universal Credit payment in February 2024 included children. Here we explain what the 2024 Universal Credit increase could mean for your family.

Universal Credit increase 2024

1. Universal Credit went up in April 2024, but some families will only see that increase from June

Universal Credit went up by 6.7 per cent in April 2024, which means a single claimant over 25 now receives £393.45 a month, while joint claimants over 25, receive £617.60 per month. Those with children may be eligible for more.

However, while some might have already started getting the increased payments, others will have had to wait until June 2024 to see the increase. This is all down to when your assessment period falls (Universal Credit payments are assessed each month, and the payment comes seven days later). As charity Turn2Us explains, if your assessment period started before 8 April 2024, you won't have received an increase Universal Credit payment in June. It shared the following example: 'Rachel’s assessment period starts on 26 March. It runs for a complete calendar month to 25 April, with a new assessment period beginning on 26 April.

'Universal Credit payments are paid a week after the last date of each assessment period, so Rachel will receive her payment on 2 May. But as this assessment period starts before 8 April, the new rates will not take effect and Rachel will have to wait until her next assessment period (26 April to 25 May) to get the new rate on 1 June.'

2. There a new rules around the minimum number of hours you are required to work

As of May 2024, those who claim Universal Credit and are able to work, will now be expected to work a minimum of 18 hours a week. Before this, the minimum expectation was 15 hours work a week. This rule change means that 180,000 people will have to work more or see their benefits reduced.

However, if you have children and are the main carer, the expectations are a little different, depending on how old your youngest child is. Until they are three years old, you aren't expected to look for work, but you may be required to complete work preparation activities, such as writing your CV. Once your youngest child turns three, you will be expected to work up to 30 hours a week, rising to up to 35 hours when your child turns 13.

3. Universal Credit can help with childcare costs

If you and your partner (if you have one) claim Universal Credit and have to pay for childcare while you go to work, then you can recoup up to 85 per cent of the costs, up to a maximum of £1,014.63 for one child or £1,739.37 for two or more children. If you have more than two children, unfortunately the two-child benefit cap means you won't receive more money. You will need to pay for the childcare first, then claim it back afterwards.

While you might also be eligible to get 15 or 30-hours free childcare, if you claim the childcare portion of Universal Credit, you are not eligible for the tax-free childcare allowance.

Sarah Handley
Consumer Writer & Money Editor, GoodtoKnow

Sarah is GoodtoKnow’s Consumer Writer & Money Editor and is passionate about helping mums save money wherever they can - whether that's spending wisely on toys and kidswear or keeping on top of the latest news around childcare costs, child benefit, the motherhood penalty. A writer, journalist and editor with more than 15 years' experience, Sarah is all about the latest toy trends and is always on the look out for toys for her nephew or Goddaughters so that she remains one of their favourite grown ups. When not writing about money or best buys, Sarah can be found hanging out with her rockstar dog Pepsi, getting opinionated about a movie or learning British Sign Language.