THOUSANDS on Universal Credit will be hit by a major change in just days.
The Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET) is increasing and 120,000 on the benefit will be impacted.
It means you might have to look for or prepare for work if you want to carry on receiving payments.
Currently, those on Universal Credit have to earn the equivalent of 12 hours pay a week at the National Living Wage to not have to meet certain requirements.
This includes having to look for more work.
But from January 30, this threshold will be increased to 15 hours a week.
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It might not seem like a lot, but it means an estimated 120,000 people will need to earn more to be exempt from such requirements.
And those that don't meet the requirements can be sanctioned – this means payments being temporarily stopped or reduced for a set period.
Who will be impacted?
Every person has their own unique earnings threshold depending on their personal circumstances.
As an example, currently, if you are single, employed and have household earnings of more than £494 per month you aren't expected to look for or be available for work.
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This is £782 per month joint income if you are part of a couple.
But, these figures will go up to £617 and £988 respectively from January 30.
So if you earn under these amounts you will have to look for or be available for work.
If you don't, you'll be faced with a sanction.
But there are some exceptions, for example if you have a joint Universal Credit claim and your partner is not expected to work because they have a Limited Capability for Work.
Another exception is if you are over the state pension age, which is currently 66.
The rules can be complicated so it's worth speaking to your work coach if you think the change will impact you.
Or, you can speak to charities like Turn2Us for advice. You can call them for free on 0808 802 2000.
What help is there for people on Universal Credit?
There's plenty of extra help on offer if you're on Universal Credit.
The Department for Work and Pensions has announced millions will get a £900 cost of living payment over the next two years, including those on Universal Credit.
The payment is going to be split into three instalments.
You don't have to apply for the payments as they will be made automatically into bank accounts.
There's a host of freebies you can get if you receive Universal Credit as well.
This includes free or cheap broadband, through so-called social tariffs.
Plus, you can get free school meals, a discount on your council tax, cold weather payments and help with rent.
For the full list, you can read our guide here.
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In other Universal Credit news, consumer expert Martin Lewis has warned how millions are missing out on £1,000 in free cash.
Plus,stay-at-home mums will be wooed back into the office, under plans being considered by ministers.
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