Introduction to Universal Credit
About Universal Credit
Universal Credit is part of the government’s Welfare Reform. It is a new benefit that is replacing six existing benefits with a single monthly payment if you are out of work or on a low income.
Universal Credit is replacing:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
Universal Credit aims to ensure that you will be better off in work and makes it easier for you to start a new job or work more hours. As your take home pay increases, Universal Credit will gradually reduce, meaning that your benefits don't end immediately if you are on a low income.
Council Tax Support
If you are currently liable for paying rent and Council Tax at your property, your rent will be included in your single monthly Universal Credit payment but you will need to apply for Council Tax Support separately at Rossendale Borough Council. Failure to do so will result in you paying your full Council Tax.
When will Universal Credit begin?
Universal Credit is being introduced in stages from April 2013 and will be completed by 2017. Some people in Rossendale will be able to claim Universal Credit on 6th Oct 2014.
What do I need to do?
If you already claim one of the six benefits that will eventually be replaced by Universal Credit, you will continue to do so for now.
If your current circumstances stay the same you will be invited to apply for Universal Credit at some point in the future as it is rolled out across Rossendale. However, if your current circumstances change you may be invited to apply for Universal Credit sooner.
If you are not eligible to claim Universal Credit you will be advised to claim the appropriate existing benefits as normal.
What are the main changes?
You will need to make your claim online
Your Universal Credit will be paid directly to one person in the household each month
Any help you get with your rent will be included with your Universal Credit payment and you will then pay the landlord yourself
Work and Claiming Universal Credit
Unlike the rules for Working Tax Credit, there are no limits to the number of hours you must work per week to be eligible to claim Universal Credit. Your payment will reduce gradually as you earn more and you won’t lose all your benefits at once if you’re on a low income. Universal Credit makes work pay. Universal Credit also makes it easier for you to take short-term or part-time work, which can be a crucial step on the road to long-term employment.
Get ready for Universal Credit
There are two main things that you could do now to get the most from Universal Credit:
Go online - Universal Credit is designed to be claimed online. Your claim starts on the day that you submit it to DWP. If you do not have access to the internet or if you are not confident using a computer, the jobcentre can tell you about local services that can help you. Alternatively you can get advice from Rossendale Borough Council’s Advice and Information Service – STAN the VAN. Getting online and building your confidence in using digital services will also help you to access more job vacancies and get into work more quickly.
Sort out the best way to manage your money - Universal Credit is paid monthly into a single account for you and your household. If you are making a joint claim, this will usually be paid into a joint account to help you and your partner manage your money together. However, you can nominate an individual account if you prefer. Your Universal Credit payment provides a month’s support for your household and may include an amount for your housing costs. If you have been used to managing your money fortnightly or having your rent paid directly to your landlord, you may need to find new ways to manage your money.
This could include:
• talking to your landlord to agree the best way to pay your rent
• setting up a bank account
• getting advice on budgeting
Support and Information
If you do not have access to a computer, there are a number of places across the borough where you can use a computer for free and receive support with making your online claim. Click here for details.
If you don't have a bank account already, you might want to consider opening a basic bank account or an account with the Credit Union.
If you think you may struggle to manage your money on Universal Credit, contact your local Job Centre to arrange a free money advice session with a local provider.
You have more questions? Click here for further information.