What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a new type of benefit designed to support people who are on a low income or out of work.
Universal Credit is gradually replacing the following benefits:
- Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
Benefits will slowly decrease as income increases, and the previous 16 hour working rule, limiting how many hours a claimant can work before losing their benefits, will no longer apply. Universal credit is designed to be more flexible, reducing the need to keep making separate claims for different benefits. It will also be easier to reinstate a claim if your circumstances change. It is aimed at replicating the world of work by paying a single monthly payment one month in arrears, and making sure that people are better off in work. The following interactive modules have been created by the Department of Work and Pensions to help people looking for full time work. Click here to access the modules.
Most people will claim Universal Credit on-line
If you don’t have access to a computer, your job centre will be able to help you, or you can use the computers in your local library free of charge on certain days. We can also make a computer available for you at our office. If you are worried about your IT skills, there are government funded courses available. We could help to find a course to suit you, or you could ask at your job centre, or find details at your library. Click here for our Local Services directory.
Any help you get with your rent will be included in your payment, and you’ll have to pay your landlord yourself
You may be used to having your rent paid directly to your landlord, however you will soon be responsible for paying the rent yourself. It is important to prioritise your rent payment, and keep this money separate from your other bills and general spending money.
As you’ll get one monthly payment for your whole household, it may be useful to use a budget planner so that you can keep track or your income and outgoings. We can provide one for you, or you could use the Money Advice Service online planner which can be found here.
In special circumstances, the housing element of your Universal Credit may be paid directly to us. This is something that could be considered at the start of a claim, or at any point throughout.
Universal Credit will be paid directly into your bank account
As your payments will be paid directly to you, you will need to ensure you have a bank, building society or credit union account that accepts automated payments. We can help you set up an account with a credit union. There will be a suitable bank account for you even if your credit history isn’t perfect! Click here for more information on choosing the right bank account for you. Don’t forget that you will also need to set up a direct debit payment for your rent, so that you don’t need to worry about sending it to us.
If you are concerned that you may have difficulties paying your rent or managing your money, please talk to us.
Your Housing officer or Customer Service Adviser at Rockingham Forest Housing, can support you in preparing for Universal Credit, making your claim, and managing your money. Please contact us.
When does it affect me?
Universal Credit is being introduced in stages in different parts of the country. There are two types of Universal Credit, LIVE and FULL, depending on where you live.
If you’re in area which only has LIVE Universal Credit, then only single people looking for work can claim. There are also several other conditions you have to pass, including having no responsibility for children (including Child Maintenance) and not being entitled to disability benefits. If you don’t meet these criteria, you still have to claim the traditional ‘Legacy’ benefits that Universal Credit replaces (see top of the page).
If you’re in an area which is now on FULL Universal Credit, nearly everyone making a new claim to any of the benefits Universal Credit replaces has to claim Universal Credit instead. The only people not included are families with three or more children – new claims made by these people still go to the traditional ‘Legacy’ benefits mentioned above until 1 November 2018.
The following lists Jobcentres and the dates that these areas move to FULL service.
Rushden: now May 2018
Kettering: now October 2018
Northampton: now November 2018
Wellingborough: now November 2018
- Families with three or more children who would otherwise need to claim Universal Credit will not be able to do so until at least February 2019 now (previously it was up to November 2018). These families will need to claim existing benefits instead (e.g. Tax Credits, Housing Benefit, JSA, Income Support or ESA).
- The DWP has introduced Freephone numbers for Universal Credit: If you live in a full service area (i.e., if you have an online Universal Credit account), you should ring 0800 328 5644. If you live in a Live service area (i.e., you are notified in writing about your entitlement), you should ring 0800 328 9344.
To claim, visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit. If you’re not sure whether you can claim Universal Credit but know you need to make a claim for help, the best thing is to start a claim to Universal Credit, as the webpage will tell you whether you can claim by the answers you give.
You can download a copy of our Universal Credit Leaflet here.
You can call the helpline if you need help making your claim online.
Universal Credit helpline Telephone: 0345 600 0723 Universal Credit FAQ