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The Government is extending Universal Credit to couples in five existing test sites.
It says Universal Credit will make the welfare system simpler by replacing six benefits and tax credits with a single monthly household payment. It includes support for the costs of housing, children and childcare, as well as support for disabled people and carers.
From this month, Hammersmith, Bath, Rugby, Harrogate and Inverness will take new claims from couples as well as those from single people. Other sites in the north west of England and Wales will also make this change from this summer. Previously the UC has only been tested on single people.
Universal Credit also goes live in five more jobcentres in the north west of England this month – Southport, Crosby, Bootle, Bolton and Farnworth.
Existing UC claims made when a person is single can already have a partner added if the claimant’s circumstances change. Each partner will have their own Claimant Commitment drawn up with a Jobcentre work coach. It sets out the responsibilities each has accepted in return for receiving Universal Credit, and explains what could happen if they don’t do what they’ve agreed.
As well as being available to couples who are both out-of-work, eventually people may also be able to claim Universal Credit if one or both partners is in work and their combined take home pay is under £525 per month.