Universal Credit (UC) is the new benefit the Government is introducing for working age claimants. If either you or your partner are pensioners this change doesn't affect you.
UC is being rolled out in Herefordshire from 13th June 2018. This will mean that if you have to make a new claim for any of the benefits below you'll have to claim UC instead:
- Housing Benefit
- Jobseekers Allowance (income based)
- Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
Importantly if you're already receiving one or more of the above benefits you'll carry on receiving them for the time being.
Remember, it’s only if you have to make a new claim for one of the above benefits that you’ll claim UC instead.
If you receive UC your total entitlement will be lumped together and you'll receive one payment on the same day each month.
UC is paid and managed differently from many other benefits so you may need to make changes to how you manage your benefit claims and money.
Here's some commonly asked questions;
Do I need online access to receive Universal Credit?
Yes the government expect you to claim and maintain UC online. If you’re not comfortable using a computer or the Internet you can learn by taking a course at our learning resource centre – the Learning Box.
Will I need to prove my identity?
When you first claim UC you will be required to prove your identity to the Jobcentre, even if you've done this previously to claim another benefit. Please see here for a full list confirming the documents you'll need to provide. If you don’t currently have any of the Primary Evidence you may want to consider applying for a provisional driving license now.
Will I need a Bank Account?
UC can be paid into a bank account or a Post Office Card account. Unfortunately however you can’t use a Post Office Card account to set up automated payments (Direct Debits) for rent and bills. If you don’t have a bank account you could think about opening a basic bank account that offers Direct Debits. If you have a partner, UC will normally make one payment for both of you into one account so you’ll need to decide who'll receive it.
Is Universal Credit paid weekly or monthly?
UC is paid once a month. You’ll have to pay your rent, bills and household expenses out of your monthly payment. It may be that you’re used to getting your benefit every two weeks at the moment so it is important that you start to plan your budget around monthly benefit payments instead.
Does Universal Credit still include Housing Benefit?
Your monthly UC payment will include help with your rent (known as a Housing Element). You will then have to pay this to Herefordshire Housing yourself. Paying your rent will need to be your top priority each month. The easiest way to do this is by Direct Debit.
I'm expecting a child who'll be born after 20th June, does this mean I can't claim Child Tax Credit?
Yes and no. It depends on if you have other existing benefit claims or if you have other children. For example if your first child is to be born after June 20th then yes you'd need to claim Universal Credit, and if you were in recipt of any of the other 6 benefits (listed above) they would stop and become Universal Credit. If you were already claiming Child Tax Credit for other children then your existing Child Tax Credit award and other benefits would continue.
If you'd like further help or advice relating to Universal Credit please get in touch with our Tenancy Sustainment Team here.