MILLIONS of people are set to see their benefits change after new rules aimed at getting more people into work were outlined by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in his budget. 

Mr Hunt's major changes to Universal Credit will see stricter sanctions encouraged to get people back into work, and the scrapping of a disability and sickness assessment. 

For the former, the Chancellor has announced that the Administrative Earnings Threshold for Universal Credit claimants has also been increased from the equivalent of 15 hours on the National Living Wage to 18.

Anyone claiming Universal Credit who earns less than that will have to prove they're looking for more, or better-paid, work, or risk action, with the increase meaning that more people will be required to attend meetings with a work coach. 

Mr Hunt is also scrapping the work capability assessment (WCA) to assess eligibility for sickness benefits, with the Government saying its focus has switched from what people can't do to what they can.  

He cited the increase in businesses allowing work from home as a way to get people back into work. 

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“With Zoom, Teams and new working models that make it easier to work from home, this is more possible than ever before," he told MPs.

"So for that reason, the ever-diligent Work and Pensions Secretary today takes the next step in his groundbreaking work on tackling economic inactivity.

“I thank him for that, and today we publish a White Paper on disability benefits reform. It is the biggest change to our welfare system in a decade.”

This means that there will be just one health and disability assessment going forward, the Personal Independence Payment (PIP). 

Mr Hunt added: “Sanctions will be applied more rigorously to those who fail to meet strict work-search requirements or choose not to take up a reasonable job offer.

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"For those working low hours, we will increase the Administrative Earnings Threshold from the equivalent of 15 hours to 18 hours at National Living Wage for an individual claimant, meaning that anyone working below this level will receive more work coach support alongside a more intensive conditionality regime.”

But the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that the scrapping of WCAs for benefits could risk some people with disabilities on universal credit losing out financially.

Tom Waters, senior research economist at the IFS, said: “Around one million people may be required to work and around 600,000 could be in line for a roughly £350-per-month loss of income, though in the short run all of them will be protected by transition measures."