Universal Credit

What is Universal Credit?

UCUniversal Credit is now live across large areas of the country including Wiltshire, Swindon, Gloucestershire, and Oxfordshire. It is a new benefit that is replacing six working age benefits:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

You will need to make a claim for Universal Credit online, and the benefit you get will be paid monthly to a bank account to one member of your household. This payment will include payments for your rent, so you will need to think about what method you are going to use to pay your rent.

Any benefits received, which are not included in the above list, will continue to be paid separately. These include child benefit, carer’s allowance, personal independence payment, and council tax support.

UC is paid differently to these benefits. It is a single monthly payment that includes help with your rent and is paid in arrears, and the first payment is received around six weeks after the initial application has been made. Backdated claims will not be accepted.

If you feel unable to manage while waiting for this first payment, you can ask the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) for ‘advance payment’. You need to ask for this at your first interview at the job centre, or call the helpline 0345 600 0723. Please note, any advance payment will be paid back out of your future UC payments.

Some claimants, rather than having monthly payments, can get the amount split and paid twice a month – but you will need to ask for this and explain why you cannot manage with monthly payments. We expect this will only be in exceptional circumstances.

The DWP has produced this video about UC which you may find useful.

This video gives an overview of how to make a claim, and what this looks like.

 

Universal Credit and working

Universal Credit will be paid to households both in and out of work, and the amount that you can keep in earnings before your Universal Credit begins to reduce is significantly higher than with the current benefits.

When it is happening?

UC has been rolled out across the UK but not everyone has to, or is able to claim it straight away. Many areas have had a limited roll out for some time, but from 2016, this has been rolled out as ‘full service’. This means when some makes a claim for a ‘legacy’ benefit (those above), a claim for UC will be made instead. This is called ‘natural migration’.

UC full roll out is being phased across Jobcentre Plus (JCP) areas, not local authority areas. JCP areas often span over many local authority areas.

Currently live

JCP Area

Affected Postcodes

Bath

SN14, BA1, BA2, BA3

Swindon

SN1, SN2, SN25, SN26, SN3, SN38, SN4, SN5, SN6, SN99

Chippenham

SN11, SN13, SN14, SN15, SN16

Devizes

SN10, SN12, SN8, SN9

Trowbridge

BA12, BA13, BA14, BA15, SN12

 

Future dates

JCP Area

Affected Postcodes

Go Live Date

Oxford

OX1, OX2, OX20, OX25, OX26, OX27, OX3, OX33, OX39, OX4, OX44, OX49, OX5, OX6, OX9

October 2017           

Didcot

OX10, OX11, OX12

October 2017

Abingdon

OX10, OX12, OX14, OX15

October 2017

Banbury

OX15, OX16, OX17, OX25, OX26, OX27

November 2017

Cirencester

GL7, GL8, GL9

November 2017

Witney

OX18

November 2017

Tewkesbury

GL20

December 2017

Gloucester

GL18, GL19, GL2, GL24, GL3, GL1, GL14

February 2018

 

Universal Credit will be assessed and paid by Department for Work and Pension Service centres. You can call the service centre on 0345 600 0723. Your will still need to make a claim for Council Tax Reduction if you qualify from you local council.

What about the benefits not being included in Universal Credit?

Contributory benefits and most disablement and carers benefits are remaining, and will not be affected, neither will Child Benefit.

You can find out more about Universal Credit here:
https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit
https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/categories/universal-credit

What triggers a UC claim?

When you have a change in circumstances, this will normally be a trigger for UC.

These include:

  • losing employment or sickness absence from work;
  • a new claim for housing benefit;
  • changes in working hours;
  • having a child;
  • a partner leaving or joining a household;
  • lone parent’s child reaching five;
  • ceasing full time education; and
  • being remanded in custody.

However, if you are currently receiving housing benefit and are moving to a new property, and this is the only change, within the same JCP area, this is NOT a trigger for a UC claim.

How much UC will I be paid?

Universal Credit is a ‘family’ benefit. It depends on your circumstances and income.
You can check this online at GOV.UK – https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/what-youll-get

Other welfare reform changes are still in place with this, such as the ‘bedroom tax’ and the benefit cap. These amounts will be deducted from the housing costs element of UC.

How is UC paid?

UC is paid monthly, in arrears. It includes housing costs, so you will have to pay full rent to GreenSquare.

Can I have my UC housing costs paid directly to GreenSquare?

This will only happen In exceptional circumstances,where there is vulnerability. You can ask for this at the new claim interview.

Or, if you are two months or more in arrears, we can request payment directly to us.

How will arrears cases be managed?

These will be managed in the same way as any other arrears cases, as per the tenancy agreement, and in conversation with customers. It is important to understand and remember that we expect full rental payments in advance, as per your tenancy agreement.

If you are struggling financially, you can speak to, or we can refer you to any debt and advice agency such as Citizens Advice or a local law centre.

How can I prepare for UC?

There are a number of things you can do to prepare for UC.

Go online. UC will be applied for and managed online. Your local Jobcentre Plus will be able to help you to do this. Local libraries and community halls may also offer courses and access to computers.

Open a bank account. All UC payments are made into a bank account, a month in arrears. Be ready for this by setting up a bank account in preparation.

Get a month in advance of your rent. UC payments are a month in arrears, so prepare for this by paying a little extra each week now to get ahead.

Visit GOV.UK to read a guide about preparing for UC.
http://ucpp.dwp.gov.uk/universal-credit-preparation/

Any queries or concerns? Contact us
info@greensquaregroup.com or 01249 465465.