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I’m a Universal Credit work coach – here’s what you need to know about today’s benefit changes

A UNIVERSAL Credit work coach has explained how nearly two million Brits will see their payments change from today.

And it could mean you’re better off by as much as £1,000 a year.

Chris Buckley, 53, who works for the Jobcentre Plus in Swansea high street told The Sun: "For Universal Credit claimants earning money, their payments can be reduced."

"Previously the rate of reduction was 63p in the pound. That's changed to 55p. Claimants who work keep more money."

A change to the way payments are reduced - known as the taper rate - was first announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in his Budget in October.

It's a huge win for The Sun's make Universal Credit Work campaign.

It also means some people can earn more before the taper rate kicks as the work allowance is going up by £500 a year.

The change took place last week and anyone getting Universal Credit and in work will see their payments change from today onward when it hits bank accounts.

The exact date you start getting the extra cash will depend on when you get your Universal Credit payments each month.

Chris, who spent 10 years as a work coach before becoming a manager, said that notifications have already gone out to people through their online journal.

He said: "Someone on minimum wage working 35 hours a week will probably be £1,000 better off,"

"You can look at your previous payment and then this month's to see exactly how much extra you're getting. It roughly equates to an 8% increase."

Notifications have gone out to people through their Universal Credit accounts says Chris, but anyone trying to work it out can ask for help.

He said: "When it comes to being better off, we’ve got some great work coaches. They can run calculations. And there are ones claimants can do themselves like EntitledTo's benefit checker."

"If things still aren't clear stick a journal message in and ask for a quick chat.

"One of the satisfying things about being a work coach is helping people back into work, even if it’s saying this is how much you’ll be better off by."

Chris, who worked in a range of jobs before becoming a work coach including a barman on the QE2 cruise ship and at Butlins, is also urging anyone on a low income to check if they can now get Universal Credit.

Check what help you can get

The change to the rules on how much you can earn and keep, means thousands more are now eligible for the benefit.

"You don’t know what you can get until you actually make a claim. Everyone’s circumstances are different."

"You may be eligible for various premiums, for example on health grounds. If you’re on low income, check. You won’t lose anything if you apply.

"It would be a shame if they had missed out on money that could have helped."

He also reminded anyone claiming Universal Credit that they can also get extra help if they are struggling.

"There's warm home discount payments and councils have another £500m to dish out," he said.

The warm home discount scheme gives you £140 of you energy bill this winter if you're on a low income - but you need to apply through your supplier.

Meanwhile Universal Credit claimants and anyone else struggling with bills can access the fresh cash through the Household Support Fund.

The type of help you can get and the amounts available vary depending on where you live - you can check with your local council and apply directly to them.

You can checkout more help you could get in The Sun's guide.

The change to the taper rate is designed to encourage more people into work and take on more hours or a job with higher pay.

We previously spoke to one working mum who turned down a job with higher pay because she would lose too much cash before the taper rate was slashed.

Sell yourself

Chris has some top tips for anyone job hunting: "Don't undersell yourself," he said.

"You have far greater options if you want to change careers. There are a lot of jobs out there that need filling. Skills on the whole are transferable, so think outside the box."

"Your CV is not one-size fits all and small tweaks can make a big difference. Sell yourself to the employer."

Chris also recommends checking social media for jobs as this is where many employers now advertise vacancies - but not before taking a look at your own.

"Check your social media accounts. Give it a once over and remove anything that doesn’t reflect the best of you," he said

There's also the government's Job Help website and it's worth checking for any local job fairs as in-person events are starting to return after Covid, says Chris.

"Be resilient. It's easy to say, but you do get knocked back. You won't get the first job you go for. But don't get too downhearted. Maybe it wasn't for you anyway."

“Depending on where you are on journey into employment, how long and other circumstances, there are other programmes to help people into work

"The best thing that claimants can do is speak to their work coach and ask.

"It’s very rare that there isn’t another scheme that can help people into work, whether that's the government, local authority or other organisations in your area."

Martin Lewis urges anyone claiming Universal Credit to start a help to save account

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