Benefit changes - get in shape for Universal Credit
A new benefit called Universal Credit has replaced a range of benefits and tax credits for people of working age. It replaces:
- Housing Benefit
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credits
- Working Tax Credits
Universal Credit is already being paid to some job seekers in the North West. It is being rolled out gradually until 2017.
It is really important to understand how the changes will affect you. Universal Credit means:
- You will be given a single monthly payment.
- You need to have an account that you can receive automatic payments into.
- If you have a partner and you have more than one account then you will need to choose which account it is paid into.
- In most cases, any financial support you get to help you pay your rent will be included in your Universal Credit and paid to you on a monthly basis. You will then pay your full rent to us yourself.
- You will need to manage your Universal Credit online.
UPDATE - The Department for Work and pensions has introduced a seven day waiting period for claimants who are in the All Work Related Requirements Group. This affects new claims made on or after 3 August 2015, Please click here to find out more.
Here is our guide to getting ready for Universal Credit.
Universal Credit is generally paid monthly and you may have other money coming in at different times during the month.
Budgeting your household income and outgoings is going to be important if you want to make sure you can pay all your bills and manage until you are paid again.
If you have any debts then please contact our Financial Inclusion Team to speak about how you are going to manage your payments in the future in a monthly payment system.
You will be expected to claim Universal Credit and report any changes in your circumstances online:
• If you don’t have access to the internet then you could try your local Job Centre, library or council offices. We also have a Tenant Zone with computers and free Wi-Fi at our offices at Warwick House and Sumner House. Laptops are also available at The Base and The Place, Kingsfold, Saltcotes and Lower Lane community centres.
• If you would like to improve your computer skills, your Jobcentre or local library can help you find a course or our Digital Champions can help. Please contact us for more information.
• If you are already online and just want to brush up on your internet skills then try some of the free courses at www.learnmyway.com
When you move onto Universal Credit please let us know and make arrangements to pay your rent on time You can find all the different ways to pay your rent here.
If you can, consider paying a little extra rent each week now so that when you move onto Universal Credit and are paid monthly, there is already money in your rent account to help pay the first month’s rent.
Under Universal Credit the rules around under occupancy will change. You can find out how your housing benefit might be affected by clicking here.
No but you will need an account that you can receive automated payments into. Universal Credit can be paid into:
Post Office card accounts – this type of account is designed specifically for receiving benefits. It can only be accessed at a Post Office. It does not allow you to set up direct debits or standing orders to pay rent or bills.
Basic bank account –most of the features of a current account but without the risk of going overdrawn. These accounts usually allow direct debits and standing overs.
Credit Union current account – Many Credit Unions offer a current account where benefits and wages can be paid in. Direct debits and standing orders can be arranged and other banking facilities are available.
‘Jam jar’ account (also called a budgeting account) – This is a new type of account that divides your money into several ‘pots’ so you can keep money to pay your bills separate from your spending money. It often has a monthly fee.
Current account – this could be with a bank or a building society. This type of account has the widest range of facilities but you normally need to pass a credit check to open one. Unlike the basic accounts, you can become overdrawn and face charges.
Prepaid card account – this is a card that you can pay your Universal Credit onto. You can then use the card to pay in shops but you won’t be able to set up direct debits or standing orders for bills or rent. You may be charged to set up the card, to receive payments or use cash machines.
If you or your partner are of Pension Credit age then you can find out if you can claim Pension Credit instead of Universal Credit. For more information please talk to a member of our Financial Inclusion Team, Lancashire County Council’s Welfare Rights Team on 0300 123 6739, your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau or phone the Pension Service on 0800 991 234.
You can also check what your Pension Credit qualifying age is by entering your gender and your age here.
Progress Housing Group’s Financial Inclusion Team
Money Advice Service
0300 500 5000 (Eng) or 0300 500 5555 (Wales)
Citizen’s Advice Bureau
Department for Work and Pensions