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Universal credit is coming soon – are you ready?

Universal Credit is the new combined benefit payment which brings together six different types of benefits and tax credits into one, and the full service will be arriving in Cadder in October 2018.

Will Universal Credit affect me?

One of the aims of Universal Credit is to help people get back into work, so it only applies to people of working age – if you are of pension age Universal Credit doesn’t affect you.

If you are of working age, Universal Credit will affect you if you need to make a claim for any of the following:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income Support

You may well have to claim Universal Credit if there is a change in your circumstances – for example: if your benefits change, you lose your job or if you move home and need help with your housing cost. The government plans to move all claimants on to Universal Credit from 2020

Facts about Universal Credit (UC)

  • A working age benefit to replace existing benefits including Housing Benefit.
  • When you claim UC all your old legacy benefits will stop.
  • You must maintain your claim on-line
  • You will receive one monthly payment. This will include an element for your rent.
  • The new single monthly payment will be paid to one person in the household although alternative arrangements are possible in some circumstances
  • You will normally have to wait 5 weeks before getting your first payment – this can lead to arrears of rent

What’s new with Universal Credit?

Autumn Budget announcements – recent changes to Universal Credit

  • An interest-free advance of up to a month’s worth of UC will be available within five days of a claim and is then repaid over the next 12 months
  • From February 2018, the seven day waiting period was removed, so that entitlement to UC starts on the first day of the application.
  • From April 2018, those already on Housing Benefit will continue to receive their award for the first two weeks of their UC claim.
  • You can only claim Universal Credit if you live in a full service area after the end of December 2017
  • Families with 3 or more children are currently exempt from claiming Universal Credit and will continue on legacy benefits until further notice.

Universal Credit phone lines are now Freephone numbers, with the main numbers being:

  • Universal Credit live service: 0800 328 9344 (this replaces 0345 600 0723)
  • Universal Credit full service: 0800 328 5644 (this replaces 0345 600 4272)

 

The Scottish Government is proposing measures to reduce some of the negative impacts of Universal Credit. For example, the Scottish Government has introduced flexibilities of UC payment which means the housing element can be paid directly to the landlord and in some circumstances payments can be paid twice monthly and/or split between couples. We’ll post details as they are announced

What do I have to do now? 

If you need to apply for Universal Credit, you will need to do the following:

Apply online – this can take from 20 minutes to an hour. Make sure you have all the information for your application ready, including your rent and service charge details.

Manage your budget – as payments are monthly you will have to manage your finances carefully.

Pay your rent – your rent will no longer be paid by the Council through housing benefit, so you will have to pay your rent using your Universal Credit payment and any other income you have.

Plan ahead – be careful not to fall into arrears with your rent, as there is currently a six-week wait for your first payment. Why not pay a bit extra into your rent account so that you have a buffer before you switch over to Universal Credit? It would also be a good idea to build up some savings to pay for other bills too.

Bank Account – make sure you have a basic working bank account.

Let us know – Once you’ve applied for Universal Credit, please let us know so that we’re aware of how you will be paying your rent.

How we can help you

If you have any questions or concerns about Universal Credit, our Welfare Rights and Finance Inclusion team are on hand to offer assistance. They can help you to work out your monthly budget and make sure you have all the information you need to apply.

For support, please get in touch by calling Carrie Smith on 0141 945 6722 or Doreen Milne on 0141 945 6724

Your Housing Officer can also help by giving you up to date information about your rent for your UC claim. They can also help you to arrange to pay your rent on time to avoid the risk of arrears building up.

Digital Inclusion:

You may want to improve your knowledge and get more out of your computer, tablet or phone? This may be chiefly for pleasure or to communicate with friends or us. The same skills though can help you budget better by finding the best deals and perhaps make and manage benefit claims.

In partnership with Kelvin College, we regularly run basic IT drop-in sessions in our community centre I.T Suite

The sessions can help you with the following:

  • How to use a computer, tablet or phone
  • Using the Internet
  • Setting up e-mail addresses
  • Setting up Universal Job Match
  • Applying for Job Seekers and Universal Credit on-line
  • Completion of on-line application forms for employment or housing

Keep a lookout on our website for upcoming sessions.

You can find out more about Universal Credit by visiting the government website – gov.uk – and searching for ‘universal credit’.

The Association’s FIS is funded by the S.Gov