To ask a universal credit question?

(70 Posts)
BarcelonaBabes Sun 03-Feb-13 15:57:21

To get benefits when it changes, if you are part of a couple, will you both have to be working? I'm confused

M0naLisa Sun 03-Feb-13 16:00:11

I have sent my MP an email asking this and by the sounds even he doesnt know. he said he will find out and get back to me. So will let you know.

Fanjango Sun 03-Feb-13 16:02:14

I thought that as a couple you would have to work 35 hours between you. It does not matter which/ both of you it is.

calandarbear Sun 03-Feb-13 16:58:34

As I understood it a couple with no children have to work to earn the equivilent of 35 hrs at NMW each (70hrs at NMW in total)
A couple with children aged 5- 12 eqvilent of 35hrs at NMW for one parent and 24hrs at NMW for the parent nominated main child carer. (59hrs at NMW in total)
A couple with a child between 1 and 5 one must work 35hrs at NMW the other must atend keeping in touch interviews
A couple with a child under 1 one must work 35hes at NMW the other has no conditionality
I hope that helps

Sneezingwakesthebaby Sun 03-Feb-13 16:59:54

I thought it depends on the age of your children or if you have any or not.

A couple with a child under 5 can nominate one person to be treated the same as a lone parent. This means they'll be treated the same way as a LP with work based interviews etc but their partner will have to work full time. I think this can be split as well with neither nominated but both working part time (20 hrs each) but not too sure. The same applies with a child under 12 but at that age the LP would work in school time so the nominated partner has to as well (other partner still full time). When there are no kids or kids above 12, both partners must work. One has to work full time and the other must work 20 hours. Buuuuut, if the full time partner earns more than minimum wage and their wage is the same as 55 hours minimum wage (so one full time and one part time person), the second person can choose whether to work or not.

No clue where I read that but I do remember reading it when I was going mad the other month looking into it all.

Sneezingwakesthebaby Sun 03-Feb-13 17:01:16

Eek reading pp, I think I've got mine wrong maybe :O

StinkyWicket Sun 03-Feb-13 17:01:29

So if I am working 35 hours at more than NMW and have three between 2-5, DH not working will we be entitled to anything?

I'm totally confused by it all but preparing for nothing sad

calandarbear Sun 03-Feb-13 17:05:54

Sneezing- I'm nowhere near certain that's just how I read the white paper.

Stinky- I think you would be able to claim as your children are young and one of you earns above the threshold.

OptimisticPessimist Sun 03-Feb-13 17:07:25

I think I read somewhere that one of a couple can make on the full conditionality for the couple - for example if all the children are aged 5-12 then conditionality would be 35 hours and 24 hours at NMW which is £365 per week gross. If one partner earns that then neither of them would have to seek additional work. That's my understanding of it anyway.

OptimisticPessimist Sun 03-Feb-13 17:08:07

that should say "can take on the full conditionality".

PearlyWhites Sun 03-Feb-13 17:08:29

Stinky you will be entitled With no restrictions if you earn at least Nmw per hour multiplied by 59 (£369) a week per tax or if you don't earn enough dh will have to attend preparing for work meetings until your youngest dc is 5

MakingAnotherList Sun 03-Feb-13 17:09:05

That's how I understand it too.

PearlyWhites Sun 03-Feb-13 17:09:26

That's pre tax

vision123 Sun 03-Feb-13 17:22:20

So if as a couple you work [one full time and one part time] and have a child aged 12 and you earn £369 a week together you will not be asked to work in poundland for free?

BarcelonaBabes Sun 03-Feb-13 17:28:50

What happens if neither of you have jobs and are job hunting?

vision123 Sun 03-Feb-13 17:31:27

Which equals £19,188 a year.

So if as a couple you earn £19,188 or more you wont have to do free work.

Am I right or have I got it completely wrong.??

anniepanniepears Sun 03-Feb-13 17:31:36

what about if your child is 15yrs

ssd Sun 03-Feb-13 17:36:08

you know, I'm worrying about this too, but there doesnt seem to be any clear answers yet and threads like these might be causing worry when theres actually none there

we'll have to wait and see and panic then

vision123 Sun 03-Feb-13 17:38:12

Agreed ssd............... I was not giving it a second thought until I read some stuff on here a couple of days ago.....

I should of kept to books and food.... ha ha

ssd Sun 03-Feb-13 17:41:07

must admit I am panicking a bit but really dont know what to do for the best....I notice theres nothing about this sort of thing on the news till its too late, like the awful council tax benefit cuts coming in

vision123 Sun 03-Feb-13 17:46:34

What concerns me about forums is I cannot find any really concrete details on the web, so where does everyone get their info from?

Viviennemary Sun 03-Feb-13 17:49:19

I had a look on the government website and there are some articles you can download. I skimmed through a couple. Firstly it is being phased in until 2017 so not immediately for people already claiming. And for people who lose out if they are transferred on to UC and lose money that money will be made up until what they could claim under UC is the same as what they were getting before. Also at the moment people need to be working 16 hours before they can claim childcare costs. That's being removed.

But on the Housing Benefit side. It seems as if it will be up to the Local Authority what rules they will put in place. This doesn't seem very fair to me.

vision123 Sun 03-Feb-13 17:52:35

viviennemary................... So if the money lost [if any] is going to be made up no one will lose anything.

It is being made to work somewhere without being paid which concerns me. Do you know anything about that?

Mrcrumpswife Sun 03-Feb-13 17:53:57

This is the one i have read and is the simplest from the DWP.

It should answer most questions.

Mrcrumpswife Sun 03-Feb-13 17:56:38

*When and how will Universal Credit be introduced?
Universal Credit will go live nationally in October 2013. However, from April 2013 a
Universal Credit ‘Pathfinder’ programme will take place in Tameside, Oldham, Wigan
and Warrington
The findings from the Pathfinder will be used to make changes (where necessary) to
ensure the new service is robust and reliable when Universal Credit goes live
nationally in October 2013.
More information
Pathfinder – Press Release – 24 May 2012
Universal Credit will start to take new claims from unemployed people in October
2013. For people in work this process will begin in April 2014.
The remainder of current claims will be moved to Universal Credit from 2014, with the
process being complete by 2017*

The way i read this is that everyone who works now will be shifted onto UC from April 2014?

Sneezingwakesthebaby Sun 03-Feb-13 17:58:15

I thought housing benefit is being merged in with the universal credit? The only thing that the local authorities deal with individually is the council tax benefit change. I think most councils have an explanation of what they are thinking of doing available on their websites now (well, apart from 12 of them, including mine grrr).

Also, if you are both job hunting on universal credit its like JSA now but I think its going to be stricter with more work programmes and stuff.

The only people who really need to worry right now are the ones in the four pilot councils. I think they are the only ones who have UC in April. The rest of us get it gradually from September.

Sneezingwakesthebaby Sun 03-Feb-13 17:59:18

Oops cross post!

vision123 Sun 03-Feb-13 18:02:17

I have read the link [thanks CRUMPS]but it says nothing of working somewhere for nothing. [workfare]

Mrcrumpswife Sun 03-Feb-13 18:05:29

Sneezing Housing benefit is definitely worked into UC. Its already inc on the calculators.

This is the nearest you can get to a calculation. I cant think why they are being so cagey about updating so that everyone can find out just how they will be affected.

The calculator is only an estimate.

Mrcrumpswife Sun 03-Feb-13 18:07:24

Vision thats because its in the small print. I will find you a document if i can but this whole system is constantly changing because they have already been warned it wont work so its a work in progress hence why local MPs havent got a clue about finer details.

vision123 Sun 03-Feb-13 18:11:01

Crumps... thank you.

Are my calculations above correct?

Mrcrumpswife Sun 03-Feb-13 18:11:14

*Changes to the existing regime
3. We will introduce important changes to the existing conditionality and sanctions
regime to strengthen the link between people receiving benefits and meeting
their responsibilities.  
4. This will involve:
a. increasing the level of conditionality that is applied to some recipients;
b.  ensuring recipients fully understand what is expected of them by introducing
a claimant commitment;
c.   improving the sanctions regime so that it more effectively encourages recipients
to meet their responsibilities; and
d.  introducing Mandatory Work Activity so that some recipients will be required
to take part in full-time work activity for four weeks.
5. We will begin to make these changes in the existing benefits system and they
will be carried forward under Universal Credit, with adjustments as necessary.
6. Financial support will remain unconditional for people who we do not expect to be
able to work or prepare for work. None of the changes set out in this White Paper
change that basic principle.

I have copied and pasted the bit about conditionality for you but heres the complete doc on the link. Its the DWP so not newspaper gossip and speculation but may have changed as they dont know what they are doing. Its Letter d you want!

vision123 Sun 03-Feb-13 18:12:22

So if as a couple you work [one full time and one part time] and have a child aged 12 and you earn £369 a week together you will not be asked to work in poundland for free?

£19,188 a year.

vision123 Sun 03-Feb-13 18:17:19

People receiving Universal Credit but earning above the relevant threshold would
not be subject to conditionality. Those in work but earning below the threshold
would be in the conditionality group applicable to their circumstances.


Sorry for caps

Mrcrumpswife Sun 03-Feb-13 18:18:55

I Have absolutely no idea tbh. The way i read it is that if you rely on financial support from the state by applying for UC then you sign the agreement and therefore become subject to conditionality and all of the sanctions they can enforce if you dont comply.

The only way around it would be is not to apply but that might be me being very pessimistic about this Government.

If the cut off point is 19,188 and they will leave you alone, it makes you wonder if you are entitled to claim UC if you earn that amountconfused

I'm a cynical old git so ignore me!

vision123 Sun 03-Feb-13 18:21:22

mmmmmm just have to wait and see.......

Mrcrumpswife Sun 03-Feb-13 18:24:05

I think that is their intention, pretty much the same as Privatising Schools and Hospitals, by the time we open our eyes to whats happening its too late and job donesad

vision123 Sun 03-Feb-13 18:25:55

It could be another poll tax though!!!!

Mrcrumpswife Sun 03-Feb-13 18:31:03

Lets hope so but this whole country appears to be totally indifferent to everything. Maybe the choice of heat or food will focus everyone onto the streets. Something has to wake everyone up.

If i hear the phrase languishing on benefits once more i will scream.

calandarbear Sun 03-Feb-13 18:33:00

I have to say, if the threshold was over £19,000 and we earned that I wouldn't bother claiming as we would be comfortable on that amount.
I have done some sums and as a couple we would have to work another 10hrs at NMW to reach that threshold so I hopefully if we are not switched over to UC until after September 2015 when my youngest starts school I will be able to stick to my plan of a 16hr job without claiming at all.

I think people dont really know what to do.

We can vote them out, but UC will already be in place.

What can anyone do?

OptimisticPessimist Sun 03-Feb-13 18:38:35

If all of your children are 12 or over then as a couple you will be expected to earn the equivalent of two full time jobs at NMW, so 70 hours at £6.19. That's £433 a week. If your family earns £433 or more per week you will not be expected to look for extra work.

PearlyWhites Sun 03-Feb-13 18:39:11

Vision, relevant threshold is earning the equivilant of the following at national minumum wage: 35 hours at nmw x 2 per couple(70 hours) or 35 hours add 24 hours if you have child age 1-12 (59 hours) or 35 hours if you have an under 1 That will give you no conditions.

PearlyWhites Sun 03-Feb-13 18:41:00

You also only need to work the 35 hours if you have a dc's age 1 to 4 but you will have conditions ie back to work meetings etc

PearlyWhites Sun 03-Feb-13 18:44:19

For a lone parent it's under 1 zero hours
1 to 4 zero hours but attend back to work meetings
5-12 24 hours
13 over 35 hours

Hours are not actual hours but the equivalent in national minimum wage

Sneezingwakesthebaby Sun 03-Feb-13 18:48:13

Does anyone have any ideas what the back to work meetings between ages 1-4 will entail?

lougle Sun 03-Feb-13 18:50:09

I don't think that's what barcelona was asking, was it? I think you're asking (but I might be wrong!) if a couple will have to be working to get benefits.

The answer to that question (but perhaps not the question you were asking confused) is 'no'.

Universal Credit will be payable to all working age claimants. However, the ceiling for UC 'conditionality' is possibly going to be 35 hours at NMW for both earners if you have no children. If you have children, the age of the children will affect the number of hours one of you has to work, or seek to work. If one of you is disabled, that too will have an effect.

However, the ceiling is an either or ceiling. If one of you can get work that pays enough to lift you above the equivalent value of the 'conditionality', then the other will no longer be subject to it.


2x£6.19x35=£433.30 per week.

But, if one of you earns £12.38 per hour, then you would only need one of you to work, because


If one of you were very lucky to be earning a wage of £30 per hour, then you would need only one of you to work 15 hours per week.

lougle Sun 03-Feb-13 18:52:06

x posted with a few of you!

OptimisticPessimist Sun 03-Feb-13 18:52:28

If it's anything like the current ones (I'm a LP on income support, and that's already a requirement) they're every six months, I go to the job centre and discuss my situation with my advisor and what I'm doing to prepare myself for work (so in my case I'm doing an OU degree and intend to learn to drive) and then she lets me know of any big employment opportunities (say a big store opening soon or similar) gives me a list of the back to work incentives and that's about it.

vision123 Sun 03-Feb-13 18:57:46

There will haVE TO BE lot of work in job centres going to keep up with all the extra work!!!

Sneezingwakesthebaby Sun 03-Feb-13 19:08:57

Thanks optimistic! I wonder how often they will be on UC. More often I can imagine.

Sarahplane Sun 03-Feb-13 19:27:06

I work 24 hours a week but earn just about the equivalent of nmw for 35 hours (although if nmw goes up im screwed because I'm at work the top of my grade at work and we're on a pay freeze). my dh is on a zero hours contract but hours vary from about 16 hours to 70 hours a week depending on what events are on. on a yearly basis he's earning more than nmw x 35 as well. He's the main earner now but because of the type of work he does the hours vary a lot but it balances out and he loves his job so no plans to change it and he would earn less annually in a job with a steady 35 hours at nmw. if they are now working on real time month to month earnings instead of yearly figures will he be subject to conditions during the odd quiet months? if so who are we safer putting down as the main carer? I can't increase my hours because we can't afford the extra nursery fees.

HopAndSkip Sun 03-Feb-13 19:32:08

Does anyone know how often/long the back to work meetings are? I want to wait until DD is 18 months before putting her in nursery to go back to work, but if it's meetings every week I'd have to put her in nursery anyway? hmm

OptimisticPessimist Sun 03-Feb-13 19:33:55

They're currently every 6 months and last about 10-15 minutes. I take DD with me and just take something for her to play with while I'm talking to the advisor.

HopAndSkip Sun 03-Feb-13 19:35:46

Oh that's good at least! I had visions of going back to colleges for 2 hour "lesson style" meetings each week or something!!

Viviennemary Sun 03-Feb-13 19:41:09

Vision123. I don't know anything about unpaid work that jobseekers are required to do. I don't think you should worry about that yet.

Sarahplane Sun 03-Feb-13 19:44:42

although this may all be a bit academic anyway because I'll probably be made redundant when universal credit has been phased in (I work in housing benefit).

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sun 03-Feb-13 19:49:44

Hang on, the conditionality threshold seems to he set quite high - IF you earn over the threshold does that mean you won't be disappointed entitled to anything anyway?

calandarbear Sun 03-Feb-13 19:52:19

The threshold is set ridiculously high. If we earned that much we wouldn't claim.
I'm afraid that might be the point.

Mrcrumpswife Sun 03-Feb-13 19:52:24

I don't know anything about unpaid work that jobseekers are required to do. I don't think you should worry about that yet

Its well documented as part of the conditionality requirements on the info above in the links and all other DWP info.

Viviennes point MrCrumpswife, is that they get benefits, therefore its not unpaid work. Yada yada.

<rolls eyes>

OptimisticPessimist Sun 03-Feb-13 20:05:07

£433 gross a week is £22.5k. You can still get tax credits on that amount, especially if you have 2 or more children and/or pay for childcare. Whether UC will pay above that amount I don't know; from a link on the other page it seems that it will be reduced at 65p per £1 earned, and I'm pretty sure tax credits reduce at 41p per £1 so it may well be that those that are more than a little above the conditionality amount aren't actually entitled to all that much.

Sarahplane Sun 03-Feb-13 20:10:26

the conditionality threshold is not that high an income not to need tax credits though if you have more than one child or childcare costs. If you have to pay nursery fees of say £800 a month per child then you'd be on nmw you wouldn't be able to afford to work without help with childcare.

The whole thing utterly baffles me.

Mainly because I still fail to see where all these jobs are going to come from.

Do they help with childcare costs?

It seems like they are basically punishing anyone who cannot earn atleast 20k a year. I really cannot see whats the point. If we arent "allowed" to do part time work there will be even less jobs to go round.

Sarahplane Sun 03-Feb-13 20:13:00

oops cross post optimist.

MakingAnotherList Sun 03-Feb-13 20:27:51

It's the child care costs that confuse me. For families with children they will be paying out much more on child care than they would for a SAHM/D. I don't understand the logic behind making a parent take a job and then paying 70% of the child care.

starmaker7 Mon 04-Feb-13 13:19:18

Makinganotherlist ,I've often wondered about that too

Viviennemary Mon 04-Feb-13 15:24:26

My point wasn't that. My point is that I am just a bit fed up of the scaremongering going on. People forced out to work in chain gangs sort of thing. It's just such a load of nonsense. Sorry but it is.

HappyMummyOfOne Mon 04-Feb-13 18:27:52

The logic behind paying childcare in the early years is that hopefully the parent will gain pay rises, promotions etc so as not to need benefits in future. They will be paying tax plus the childcare worker paying tax. Whereas a SAHP claiming benefits wont be paying anything in, no childcare so no tax that way and no recent work experience so potentially will be on benefits far longer.

JennyPiccolo Mon 04-Feb-13 18:36:06

I think it will be piloted in north England in April, then rolled out to the rest of the country after that. Willing to be corrected though.

Council tax benefit cuts will not be passed on in Scotland.

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