Universal Credit is being introduced; it merges together some of the benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now. The changes will make a significant difference to the way you claim and receive your benefits.
The Government has been making many changes to benefits through its Welfare Reform programme. If you’re of working age and receiving benefits, you’re quite likely to be affected. Some of the reforms are yet to be finalised, so check back for updates.
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a type of benefit and is designed for people who are looking for work or who are on a low income. It’s being introduced in several stages and replaces many existing benefits and tax credits.
How will it affect me?
Universal Credit will affect you if you are of working age and are claiming, or want to claim, any of the following benefits:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
You won’t be affected if you can claim State Pension Credit.
As the changes take effect, you may receive less money in your benefits so you’ll need to ensure that you can still cover your most important outgoings, like your rent.
What’s different about Universal Credit?
When you claim or are transferred onto Universal Credit there are a number of things you’ll need to know:
- Eventually you’ll have to make you claim and manage your payments and updates online
- Each month, you’ll receive one single payment paid into a bank account. [If you and your partner are both eligible, you will get one joint payment.]
- If you’re eligible for any assistance with your rent, this amount will be included in the monthly payment, not paid direct to us, so you’ll be responsible for paying your rent yourself.
How will Universal Credit affect how I’m paid?
If you’re on benefits, the changes will allow you to manage your money yourself, in the same way as those people who are paid a wage. Under Universal Credit, all your benefits will be paid direct to you in one payment, which has to last the whole month, so you’ll have to plan your household budget accordingly.
How is this changing from the way I used to receive benefits?
Previously, your rent will more than likely been paid directly to us, however when you receive Universal Credit, any benefit to cover your housing costs will be included in your single monthly payment. You’ll then be responsible for paying your rent to us yourself.
It’s really important you understand how these changes affect you as you could be at risk of losing your home if you don’t pay your rent in full and on time.
Will I get less money?
You can use the benefit calculator on the GOV.UK website to find out all your entitlements, including Universal Credit. You should note that under Universal Credit, you’ll always be better off if you are in work. There are no limits to how many hours a week you can work, instead the amount you get will gradually reduce as you earn more.
Do I need to do anything now?
If you’re already claiming benefits, carry on claiming as usual. You allocated benefits office will let you know when you need to do anything different.
If you are making a new claim, then use the GOV.UK benefits calculator to find out what you are entitled to and how to claim.
It is always worth asking your benefits office if you are entitled to Universal Credit, as If you are any delay in making a claim may mean you lose the benefits you are entitled to.
Who can help me?
We have four Welfare Reform officers who can help you with all aspects of Welfare Benefits Advice. They can help with completing Disability Benefit and Housing Benefit claim forms as well as advising you around all areas of Welfare Reform including Universal Credit, Benefit Cap and Bedroom Tax.
The team can also help you with
- Benefits Maximisation
- Money Management and Budgeting
- Discretionary Housing Payment Applications
- Property Pool Plus Applications and Bidding.
- Specialist 3rd party referrals for debt advice
For more details please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0151 290 7921.