Universal Credit is a new benefit and it currently only applies to working age people claiming job seekers’ allowance. It’s being rolled out in stages across the country between now and 2017 and will eventually affect everyone claiming certain benefits.
Universal Credit Digital Roll-Out will be expanded during 2016 with Sedgemoor District Council area changing over during May 2016 and the Mendip District Council area changing over during July 2016. The remainder of Local Authority areas where the Society has housing will be changed over during 2017.
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a new simpler, single monthly payment for people in or out of work, which merges together some of the benefits and tax credits which you might be getting now.
Universal Credit replaces the following six benefits:
· Income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance
· Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
· Income support
· Child Tax Credit
· Working Tax Credit
· Housing Benefit
If you are already claiming one or more of these benefits, you should carry on claiming as normal. You will be told when you need to do anything differently.
Will it affect me?
People claiming all other benefits, such as those listed below, will remain outside of Universal Credit and will not be affected by these changes:
· Attendance carers’ and disability living allowances
· Pension Credits
· Personal Independence Payments
· State Retirement Pensions
· Contributory Job Seekers’ Allowance or Employment Support Allowances
· Bereavement benefits
· Maternity allowances
· Statutory sick, maternity, paternity or adoption pay.
If you and your partner are above Pension Credit age you will not be affected. People living in supported housing or sheltered housing are also not affected.
What’s different about Universal Credit?
Here are the main differences:
· You claim Online
· You can update your circumstances online every month
· You receive one Universal Credit payment instead of six different benefits
· If you live with your partner and you both get Universal Credit, you’ll get one monthly payment between you.
Other items to be aware of and consider:
· Your first payment could take up to six weeks to be paid
· It is paid monthly and there’s just one payment per household
· Your payment is usually paid direct into your own bank account
· You pay your own rent- in most cases it won’t be paid direct to us
· If you’re making a Universal Credit claim, please let the Society know straight away
Tips to help prepare for Universal Credit
1. Open a bank account with a Direct Debit facility
You will need a bank account in order to receive Universal Credit. Direct Debit makes sure your rent is paid automatically, so you don't have to worry about remembering it.
2. Get Online
Universal Credit must be claimed online, so you'll need access to the internet. If you are unemployed you'll be expected to search for jobs online using Universal Jobs Match.
- You can access the internet at a Job Centre or at your local Online Centre. The Post Office can give you a list of your 5 nearest free centres.
- If you need to brush up on your computer skills, call UK Online on 0800 771 234 or visitwww.ukonlinecentres.com. They can help you find courses near where you live.
- Getting online also helps you find the cheapest deals, stay in touch with friends & family and check your bank account.
3. Budget your money
Setting a sensible spending budget helps ensure you won't run out of money before your next payment is due.