Universal Credit – Frequently Asked Questions

Universal Credit (UC) is a new type of benefit being rolled-out across the country on a phased basis. It is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions and replaces 6 means-tested benefits and tax credits for working-age people with a single monthly payment for the household. The benefits it replaces (referred to as ‘legacy’ benefits) are:-

  • Income Support
  • Jobseekers Allowance (income-based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income-related)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Child Tax Credits

Universal Credit ‘Full Service’ will be available in most parts of Knowsley from 16 May 2018.

Find out the answers below to some of the frequently asked questions around Universal Credit:

What's the timetable for the roll-out of Universal Credit across the country?

Universal Credit started to be rolled out nationally on a phased basis (by postcode area) in 2013 and the ‘Live Service’ version has been available in Knowsley since July 2014. Under ‘Live Service’ strict eligibility criteria has restricted who could claim Universal Credit and this has meant that the numbers claiming under ‘Live Service’ have been relatively low.

The roll-out of ‘Live Service’ was stopped with effect from 31 December 2017. This meant that no new claims for Universal Credit could be made after this date until the ‘Full Service’ version of Universal Credit was made available – Universal Credit ‘Full Service’ is available in most parts of Knowsley from 16 May 2018.

Residents on the earlier ‘Live Service’ version of Universal Credit will be invited to claim the ‘Full Service’ version later this year.

Where is Universal Credit Full Service Available

Because Universal Credit is being rolled-out on a postcode area basis linked to local Job Centres, many parts of the country, including parts of the Liverpool City Region, have already gone live with Universal Credit ‘Full Service’; for others the roll-out will take place later in 2018. In some local authority areas, Universal Credit Full Service is being made available to different parts of the local authority area on different dates.

Universal Credit Full Service will be available across most of Knowsley from 16 May 2018 (the areas covered by Huyton and Kirkby Job Centres) and for other parts of the Borough from July 2018 or September 2018.

To check whether Universal Credit Full Service is available in a particular area, go to the Universal Credit Eligibility Checker or use this Universal Credit Postcode Checker to find out when Universal Credit Full Service will be available in the future.

Who will be eligible to claim

From 16 May 2018, most working age residents in Knowsley making a new claim for one of the ‘legacy’ benefits will be directed to claim Universal Credit instead.

Universal Credit is still a means-tested benefit and is available to people both in, or out, of work.

Not all working age residents will be eligible to claim Universal Credit under Full Service from May 2018. For example, families with more than 2 children will still need to claim ‘legacy’ benefits (currently, until 2019). To check if someone is eligible to claim, go to Universal Credit Eligibility Checker.

Some people will move to Universal Credit when they have a change in circumstances which affects their benefits. This could be when they start or end work, when working hours change or when a partner moves in or out.

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Applications for Universal Credit must be made online. The claimant will need to provide certain information during the claim so it’s a good idea to have all of this to hand before starting the claim process. Visit Universal Credit: How to claim to find out what information is needed and to make a claim.

It is important to remember that Universal Credit does not include help towards Council Tax. If someone thinks they’re eligible to receive Council Tax Reduction, this will have to be claimed separately from their local Council. Visit Knowsley Council’s website for more information on how Knowsley residents can claim Council Tax Reduction.

How is Universal Credit different?

Universal Credit is very different to the benefits that it replaces:-

  • The first payment for new claims will be received 5 to 6 weeks after the claim has been made
  • The claim needs to be made and managed online – with few exceptions
  • The amount can fluctuate if income (for example from earnings) changes
  • It is paid as a single monthly payment for the household – if two adults in a couple both claim, one joint payment will be made
  • It includes housing costs where eligible (previously Housing Benefit)

How can I prepare?

Residents can use the Department for Work and Pensions’ Universal Credit Preparation Planner to see if they need to make any changes before claiming Universal Credit. This might include:

Getting a bank account

Residents can prepare to claim Universal Credit by making sure they have a bank, building society or credit union account that can be used to receive their Universal Credit payment. The Money Advice Service website can help residents choose the right account for their needs.

Budgeting skills

Unlike most other benefits, Universal Credit is paid monthly meaning claimants will need to adjust to a monthly budget and be able to manage larger amounts of money over a longer period. ‘Personal budgeting support’ is available for everyone making a claim for Universal Credit and many local agencies offer budgeting advice. See the section ‘How can residents manage the change to monthly payments?’ below for more details.

Digital skills

Everyone making a claim will need an email address and access to the internet as well as digital skills – both to submit their claim and to manage it online. Support to get online and to claim Universal Credit is available from the Department for Work and Pensions through local Job Centres. There are also many free digital skills sessions available across Knowsley for residents who want to develop their digital skills. See the section ‘Where can I go for digital support?’ below for more details.

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There is a range of support available to residents who claim Universal Credit. Visit Universal Credit: Other financial support for details of the support and how to apply. This includes:

  • Advance Payments – up to 100% of the first Universal Credit payment can be requested in advance. This has to be repaid from future Universal Credit payments, meaning that they will be lower until the advance is repaid.
  • Hardship Payments – can be requested following a benefit sanction.
  • Alternative Payment Arrangements – depending on circumstances, claimants could:
    • Arrange for rent to be paid directly to their landlord
    • Be paid more often than monthly
    • Have the payment split between partners, if Universal Credit is received as a couple.

For all of this support, residents should contact their Work Coach at the Job Centre or call the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 328 5644. Support is available at any point in the claim.

Help to get online and adapt to a monthly budget is also available; visit Knowsley Council’s Universal Credit page or the DWP site Understanding Universal Credit for more information. See below for more details on sources of digital and money advice.

Where can I go for Digital support?

Support to complete the online claim and develop digital skills (in depth assistance)

All local Job Centres will support residents to use computers, get online and complete their Universal Credit claim. Staff will be available to assist residents using the online Universal Credit system. There is no need to book but residents may need to wait during busy periods.

Claimants can also ring the Universal Credit Helpline 0800 328 9344.

Alongside this, the Council offers ‘assisted digital support’ to all residents who want to claim or have claimed Universal Credit. This is provided by Knowsley FACE, the Council’s adult and community education service. Support is free and FACE will work with residents as they complete their online form, helping residents build the digital skills they need. This includes setting up the online account, creating an email address, uploading documents and using the online ‘journal’.

Residents should ask their Work Coach for a referral to ‘assisted digital support’, or call in to one of the free digital drop-in sessions provided by FACE (see below) or contact FACE directly on 0151 443 5389.

Area Day Time Venue
Halewood Monday 10am – 12.30 Halewood Library, L26 0TS
Huyton Tuesday 9.30 – 12.30 Huyton Library, L36 9GD
Huyton Tuesday 1pm – 3.30 Merton Crescent, L36 4LD
Huyton Tuesday 10am – 12.30 Huyton Library, L36 9GD
Huyton Wednesday 12.30 – 3pm The Gate Community Centre, L14 9NQ
Halewood Wednesday 9.30 – 12.00 New Hutte Neighbourhood Centre, L26 1TT
Huyton Wednesday 9.30 – 12.00 St John’s Information Zone, L36 0UB
Huyton Thursday 1pm – 3pm St John’s Information Zone, L36 0UB
Kirkby Friday 10am – 12.30 Kirkby Library, L32 8XY
Huyton Friday 1pm – 3.30 Bluebell Park Apartments, L36 7YB

Support to get online, set up email, navigate the claim form (basic assistance)

Digital Champions are based in each Knowsley Council One Stop Shop to help residents sign up to and use the Council’s digital services. Digital Champions can also provide low level support to Universal Credit claimants, including helping to:-

  • Get online
  • Set up an email address
  • Navigate the claim form
  • Upload

There is no need to book but check One Stop Shop opening hours here.

Claimants who need in depth support to complete the claim and/or to develop computer and digital skills will be referred to Knowsley FACE.

Access to computers and Wi-Fi (non-assisted support)

Residents who can’t access a computer or get online at home can use free computers and / or Wi-Fi in any of the following sites across Knowsley.

Venue Address
Huyton  
Huyton Jobcentre Edendale House, Lathom Road, Huyton L36 9XS
Huyton One Stop Shop Archway Road, Huyton L36 9YU
Huyton Library Civic Way, Huyton, L36 9GD
   

 

Kirkby  
Kirkby Jobcentre St Chad’s House, St Chad’s Drive, Kirkby L32 8RW
Kirkby One Stop Shop Kirkby Centre, Norwich Way, Kirkby, L32 8XY
 

Kirkby Library

1st floor, Kirkby Centre, Norwich Way, Kirkby, L32 8XY
   
Halewood  
Halewood Library Halewood Centre, Roseheath Drive, L26 9UH
Halewood One Stop Shop Halewood Centre, Roseheath Drive, L26 9UH
Belle Vale Jobcentre Crown Building, 302 Childwall Valley Road L25 2UF
   
Prescot  
Prescot One Stop Shop The Prescot Centre, Aspinall Street, Prescot, L34 5GA
Prescot Library The Prescot Centre, Aspinall Street, Prescot, L34 5GA
   
Stockbridge Village  
Stockbridge Library The Withens, Stockbridge Village, L28 1AB

To find where you can ‘get online’ with access to computers, Wi-Fi and digital skills training, visit ‘My Neighbourhood’ on the Council’s website and add your postcode

Knowsley Housing Trust tenants can also approach KHT for support. Visit the Universal Credit pages on their website at KHT

How can I manage the change to monthly payments?

Personal Budgeting Support

All Universal Credit claimants have access to Personal Budgeting Support, confidential one-to-one financial advice tailored to their needs and circumstances. This will cover setting up a monthly budget, how to reduce outgoings, budgeting advice and different ways of paying bills.

Claimants will be asked if they might need Personal Budgeting Support by their DWP Work Coach when they claim Universal Credit but they can request this at any time, and they will be referred to an experienced, independent advisor for an appointment.

Residents should be encouraged to take advantage of this support – it really can make a difference – especially if they think they will find it hard to adjust to a monthly budget or if they already have debts.

Money Advice 

Other free sources of money advice are available locally, details can be found in the table below. Further details of local and national services can also be found under ‘financial advice and support’ on the Council’s website.

Many Registered Social Landlords, including KHT and Villages, offer money advice to their tenants. Social tenants claiming Universal Credit should contact their Landlord to see what other support and advice they can provide.

Money advice is also available online through the Money Advice Service, visit Money Manager for Universal Credit Claimants

Local Money Advice Services
Citizens Advice Knowsley Free confidential advice for all Knowsley residents including welfare benefits, debt and employment Call ‘Adviceline’ for telephone advice on 0344 826 9694, call into one of their centres in Kirkby, Huyton or Halewood. Visit www.citizensadviceknowsley.org.uk
Prescot and Whiston CommunityAdvice Centre Free and confidential welfare rights advice and support to claim. Drop in Monday to Friday from 10am to 12.30 at the Prescot Centre, Prescot L34 5GA or telephone 0151443 4639
Enterprise Credit Union Provides savings and loans for members.Branches across Knowsley Visit www.enterprisecreditunion.org or telephone 0151 482 0177
MABS (Money Advice and Budgeting Service) Part of Enterprise Credit Union – provide advice for their members/potential members only. Covers money management, benefits, debt, savings Visit www.ecumabs.org or telephone 0151 292 5022
Centre 63 For 16-25 year olds – advice covers housing,debts and welfare benefits Visit www.centre63.co.uk, telephone 0151 549 1494 or call in to Old Hall Lane, Kirkby L32 5TH
TASC (Tailored Advice in Communities) For Northwood residents only. Advice on all money matters – debt, benefits, savings and budgeting Performance Studios, 11 Lifton Rd, KirkbyTelephone 0151 548 4924 or email tascommunities@outlook.com

Where can I go if I claim Working or Child Tax credits to find further information?

Visit the GOV.UK website at Universal Credit and tax credits for details of how people will move from Tax Credits to Universal Credit. If someone is currently receiving Tax Credits, they do not need to do anything unless their circumstances change. Any change of circumstances must be reported to the Tax Credit Helpline on 0345 300 3900.

Where can I go to find out more?

The Gov.uk website has a range of information on Universal Credit. Visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit for an overview

The DWP’s Understanding Universal Credit is an easy-read website covering all aspects of Universal Credit

Visit Knowsley Council’s website and search Universal Credit for more information and local services

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