Universal Credit is on its way. The rollout of the benefit for new applicants will reach Waverley in October of this year.
So, what is it and how could it affect you?
Universal Credit is a new single payment benefit, which will replace:
- Housing Benefit
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Income Support.
If you are currently receiving any of these benefits, sit tight. You won’t usually need to claim Universal Credit until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) gets in touch with you (this is meant to happen from 2019). However from October 2018, new applicants will be expected to apply for Universal Credit on-line via the Government web site at:
Under Universal Credit you’ll usually get one monthly payment to cover your living costs. If you claim Universal Credit as a couple, you and your partner will get one payment between the two of you. The payment is made up of a basic ‘standard allowance’ and extra payments that might apply to you depending on your circumstances.
You might be able to get extra payments if you:
– work and have childcare costs
– need help with housing costs
– are disabled or have a health condition
– are a carer for a disabled person or you have a disabled child
In those areas where Universal Credit has already been fully introduced many claimants – often the most vulnerable – have experienced difficulty with their claims, pushing some families into debt and hardship. Citizens Advice has already helped 120,000 people navigate and understand the system. Sam’s story is typical.
Sam (not his real name – this is a representative story of someone in need of support as client confidentiality is never compromised) had been made redundant when the company which had employed him for 30 years went into administration. Without his regular income Sam found himself clocking up a lot of interest for a £360 emergency loan he took out to pay essential bills and failing to pay his rent.
Sam’s first concern was that he would have nothing to live on during the first five weeks after applying for Universal Credit because it is paid monthly in arrears. The advisor Sam met advised him to call the Universal Credit helpline (0800 328 5644) to ask for an advance payment. The advisor
– explained that Sam could borrow up to a month of his Universal Credit entitlement and although he would have to repay the loan it would be interest free.
– helped Sam to arrange for the housing cost element within his Universal Credit entitlement to be paid directly to his landlord to prevent his rent going into further arrears and
– advised him to apply for Council Tax Reduction as this doesn’t reduce the amount of Universal Credit entitlement.
Thanks to Citizens Advice Sam is now receiving his full Universal Credit entitlement. Although he has barely enough to live on he can survive financially while he continues to look for full-time employment.
Citizens Advice Waverley is ready to support local residents during the introduction of Universal Credit, which is the biggest change to the benefit system in its history. We have offices in Cranleigh, and Godalming as well as Farnham and Haslemere and we’re here to help you.
If you’re worried about Universal Credit – or anything else – don’t put it off – Citizens Advice Waverley can almost certainly help. For free, independent, confidential advice on a range of topics, from debt to immigration or housing and benefits to worries about how you are treated at work call:
0344 848 7969 or visit https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Citizens Advice Waverley is a registered charity. You can help local people get the support they need by making a donation to Citizens Advice Waverley at https://casws.org.uk/fundraising. Your donation stays local and will ensure we are here to help local people when they need it most.
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