Universal Credit

What is Universal Credit?

UC

This government website will help you understand what Universal Credit means for you:
www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk

Universal Credit (UC) is now live across large areas of the country including Wiltshire, Swindon, Gloucestershire, and Oxfordshire. It  replaces 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 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.

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

What triggers a UC claim?

A change in circumstances may 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.

How much UC will I be paid?

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.

How is UC paid?

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.

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 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.

Any queries or concerns? Contact us 

info@greensquaregroup.com or 01249 465465.