This government website will help you understand what Universal Credit means for you:
Help to Claim is a dedicated service from Citizens Advice. It’s free, independent, confidential and impartial. The service can support you in the early stages of your Universal Credit claim, from the application, through to your first payment. Find out more here.
Universal Credit (UC) is now live across large areas of the country including Wiltshire, Swindon, Gloucestershire, and Oxfordshire. It replaces six working-age benefits:
You will need to make a claim for UC online, and the benefit you get will be paid monthly to a bank account to one member of your household. This will include payments for your rent, so you will need to think about what method you are going to use to pay your rent.
UC is paid differently to other benefits. It is a single monthly payment that is paid in arrears; and the first payment is received around five 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 for Works and Pensions (DWP) for an ‘advance payment’. You need to ask for this at your first interview at Job Centre Plus. Alternatively, you can call the helpline 0800 328 9344 or visit www.understandinguniversalcredit.co.uk.
Please note, any advance payment will be paid back out of your future UC payments.
The DWP has produced this video about UC which you may find useful.
A change in circumstances may be a trigger for UC.
Universal Credit is a ‘family’ benefit. How much you would receive depends on your circumstances and income.
You can check this online here. Other welfare reform changes are still in place with this, such as the ‘bedroom tax’ and the benefit cap.
From April 2018, claimants who receive housing benefit will continue to receive this for the first two weeks of the UC claim.
UC is paid monthly, in arrears. If you are eligible for housing costs, these will be included within this amount. Either way, it is your responsibility to ensure your full rent is paid.
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.
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 Job Centre 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.
Wiltshire libraries are offering some Universal Credit support. Click here to see where, when, and the level of support offered.
If you have any queries or concerns, please contact us.