Universal Credit claimants have been told they may need to look for more work following a change to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) rules.

People in receipt of Universal Credit who work less than 18 hours a week will have to look for more work from today.

As part of the Government’s sweeping changes to the welfare system, ministers are raising the administrative earnings threshold from the equivalent of 15 hours to 18 hours at national living wage for an individual claimant.

That means those working less than half of a full-time week will have to meet their work coach more often to boost their earnings, according to the DWP.

The new rules affect individuals earning below £892 a month or £1,437 for couples, the DWP said.

This is up from £617 for individuals and £988 for couples.

The change applies to some 180,000 people, according to the department.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Today’s changes will help more people on universal credit move into well paid jobs and progress towards financial independence, which is better for them and for economic growth.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride added: “We will always back those who want to work hard and today we are radically expanding the support available to help people progress in work.

“With the next generation of welfare reforms, I want to help thousands of people on their journey off benefits and towards financial independence.

“Our plan is making work pay, with people in full-time work now £7,000 better off than on out-of-work benefits, and our tax cuts putting £900 back in the pockets of millions of workers across Britain.”

Mr Sunak last month announced his welfare reform plan, including a review of payments to people with mental health conditions, which prompted accusations of a “full-on assault on disabled people”.