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Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new benefit for people of working age, in or out of work, which will replace six existing benefits:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance 
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance 
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

Universal Credit is paid in one, lump sum monthly payment made up of your Personal Element (to cover your living costs) and the Housing Element (to help pay your rent). The government have designed it this way to make benefits more like a monthly wage and simplify the benefits system.

It is being rolled out gradually across the country and the government aims to have it fully rolled out by 2022.

Universal Credit will not affect you if you are above state pension age.

Answers to some commonly asked questions about Universal Credit can be found below:

 

When will Universal Credit affect me?

If Universal Credit has been rolled out to your area and you have a change in your circumstances and you need to make a claim for one of the benefits Universal Credit replaces - you may need to claim Universal Credit instead.

Here are the start dates for Universal Credit in the areas Radian operates:

 February 2017   Southampton, Hedge End, Bursledon 
 June 2017   Salisbury, Amesbury, Mere 
 July 2017    Eastleigh
 October 2017  Poole
 November 2017   Bournemouth 
 December 2017   Reading 
 April 2018  Windsor and Maidenhead, Slough
 May 2018  Basingstoke, Bracknell 
 July 2018  Winchester, Andover, Chichester
 September 2018   Portsmouth, Cosham, Ringwood, Hythe, Lymington, High Wycombe 
 October 2018  Alton, Bordon, Guildford, Aldershot
 November 2018  Fareham, Gosport, Havant

 

Visit the Universal Credit info website to check if Universal Credit has been rolled out to your postcode.

Between 2019 and 2022 people still getting one of the benefits replaced by Universal Credit will be asked to claim Universal Credit instead.

How can I prepare for Universal Credit?

You will need to apply for Universal Credit online. If you don’t have online access at home, you will need to do this at a library, your local Job Centre Plus or a public access point.

The Universal Credit website can be found at: www.universal-credit.service.gov.uk/

 

Get Online

Universal Credit is completely different to the benefits it replaces. Claims are made online and you will also be required to regularly check and update your Universal Credit online account.

For this reason if you are not already familiar with the internet start thinking about where you will be able to make a claim, such as the local library or job centre.

If you would like some information on using a computer or assistance making your claim, please contact one of our team on 0300 123 1 567.

 

Bank Account

Universal Credit can only be paid into a bank, building society or credit union account. So if you do not already have one it’s vital you open one in order to receive your benefits. Universal Credit can not be paid to a Post Office or Savings account.

The Money Advice Service can help you choose the one that’s right for you.

 

Managing your money

The shift to from weekly or fortnightly to monthly payments may require a change in how you budget.

Many people find using a budgeting tool helpful.

 

Get ahead with your rent payments

You will be waiting for five weeks for your first Universal Credit payment. Building up a an advance on your rent account will help you during this wait and ensure you don’t fall into arrears.

 

Do your homework

Universal Credit is the biggest change to the welfare system in a generation. Use the pages on our website and our helpful links section to make sure you understand how this change will affect you and your family.

Although it seems pretty overwhelming and involves a lot of changes, we are here to help. Please contact us on 0300 123 1 567 if you have any questions.

How do I make a claim?

You will need to apply for Universal Credit online at www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit.

If you need help claiming your local library or Job Centre Plus will be able to help.

If you live with a partner, both of you will have to make separate claims. You will then be given a linking code so your claims can be joined together.

After you apply, you must contact Universal Credit within seven days to arrange an appointment at your local Job Centre Plus. Failure to make and attend this appointment may result in your claim being cancelled.

You will need the following information to make a Universal Credit claim:

  • Address and post code
  • National Insurance number
  • Bank, Building Society or Post Office account details
  • Current rent and service charge details
  • Details of your income e.g. payslips
  • Details of Savings, capital and any other income
  • Name and address of landlord (Radian, Collins House, Bishopstoke Road, Eastleigh, SO50 6AD)
  • Details of how much you pay for child care if you are applying for help with child care costs.

You also need to verify your identity online. You’ll need some proof of I.D for this such as:

  • Driving licence
  • Passport
  • Credit/Debit card

If you don’t have any of these or are unable to use the online ID verification service you will be able to verify you’re identity at the job centre.

If you have claimed as a couple you will both have to attend separate appointments.

What happens after I've claimed?

Once you have put in a claim for Universal Credit any benefits you received which Universal Credit is replacing will stop.

If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit at the time of claiming Universal Credit you will receive a two week run-on payment of Housing Benefit. This will be paid to Radian if you have your Housing Benefit paid directly.

Because Universal Credit is paid in arrears you will then wait five weeks before your first payment of Universal Credit. This wait is made up the monthly assessment period of 1 calendar month and payment is then made 7 days later

If you need financial assistance whilst you wait for your first payment you can apply for an advance payment. Be aware that any advance will need to be paid back out of your next 12 Universal Credit Payments. For example a £500 advance will be paid back at £41.66 per month.

What about my rent?

Universal Credit will include a housing costs element to help you pay your rent.

Unlike Housing Benefit, Universal Credit will be paid directly to you. You will now be responsible for paying your full rent each month from your Universal Credit award and any other income, such as wages.

This will be a big change for some people, who are used to having their rent paid directly to Radian. Setting up a monthly Direct Debit or Standing order for the day you receive your Universal Credit will ensure the rent is paid on time.

Your rent account should not fall into arrears at any point during the month. To avoid this we will ask you to pay a small amount, on top of your rent, to bring you in line with your tenancy agreement.

 

Further information

The video below from the DWP gives an overview of Universal Credit

 

Other links: