Changes to Universal Credit in 2024

Harsher sanctions for those on Universal Credit “who should be looking for work but are not”

“Our message is clear: if you are fit, if you refuse to work, if you are taking taxpayers for a ride – we will take your benefits away.”

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride

According to the Treasury, the number of people not seeking work has risen sharply since the pandemic, which is hurting the economy (Source: BBC). 

The Government accounced changes for Universal Credit claimants in their Autumn budget announcement.


The changes are as follows:

  • Under the new plans, your attendance at job fairs and interviews that have been organised by the Job Centre will be tracked by the Government through digital technology
  • A plan under parliamentary approval, would see those solely eligable for the standard Universal Credit allowance, who refuse to engage with job centre staff or accept work offered to them after 6 months will have their claims closed. You would also lose access to benefits such as free prescriptions and legal aid  
  • For those who completed the restart scheme, if you have not found work within 18 months you will have to undertake work experience placements, if you refuse you will lose access to your benefits 

 “With almost a million vacancies in the jobs market the opportunities are there. These changes mean there’s help and support for everyone to find work, but for those who refuse it, there are consequences too. Anyone choosing to coast on the hard work of taxpayers will lose their benefits.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt

What support is being put in place to help people back into work:

  • An extra £2.5bn will be spent on career support
  • Additional staff in job centres to help claimants struggling to find work
  • Under the Back to Work plan, the government says it will expand and reform existing career help schemes for people with disabilities, health conditions or the long-term unemployed, as well as launch new ones
  • Labour have pledged to invest an extra £1.1bn to cut NHS waiting lists to help get people back to work. The party has pledged to provide an extra two million operations, scans and appointments a year by paying staff extra to run evening and weekend clinics
  • Recruit 8,500 more mental health professionals and introduce changes to incapacity benefits to encourage disabled people and people with health conditions to try work without fear of losing their income or having to be reassessed if the job does not work out
  • Introduce a new statutory duty that would require job centres to work in partnership with organisations including the NHS to tackle the root causes of worklessness

“We will put that money into creating every year an additional two million appointments, scans and operations in our National Health Service so that we can get those waiting lists down, get people the treatment they need, and get them in many cases back into work.”

Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves

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