DWP confirms major change affecting thousands of parents on Universal Credit
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From today, the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) says benefit claimants must spend more time in work or applying for jobs in a bid to get thousands of parents back into employment.
They can now be ordered to spend as many as 30 hours trying to find a job.
Previously, parents of three and four-year-olds were only expected to commit a maximum of 16 hours per week finding work, while parents of five to 12-year-olds had to spend up to 25 hours a week job hunting.
The government said this can include time spent updating CVs or developing skills through courses and workshops and that the commitments to finding work will be tailored to parents’ personal circumstances, including the availability of childcare.
Parents of three to 12-year-olds who are self-employed will not be affected by the changes.
The move comes after the UK Government boosted childcare support for low-income families, with up-front and increased costs of up to £951 a month for one child and £1,630 for two or more children – a near 50 per cent increase on the previous Universal Credit childcare offer.
Eligible parents who increase their working hours are now also receiving up to 85 per cent of their upfront childcare costs back before their next month’s bills are due, helping them cover costs one month in advance going forward.
According to the DWP, prior to these changes many low-income families struggled with upfront childcare bills, making it harder for them to move into work.
It says more than 500,000 parents will benefit from these improved work chances, which it says is “the best way to move out of poverty”.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride MP said: “We are pulling down barriers that stop parents working and fulfilling their potential, because we know full time work not only benefits mum and dad but the whole family too.
“These changes will support thousands on their back to work journey. We’re backing working families, and as they step up for their careers, we are taking action to halve inflation, grow the economy and make everyone’s money go further.”