Universal Credit explained
Universal Credit is the flagship reform of the UK benefit system and is being rolled out in stages throughout the country, replacing the following 6 ‘legacy’ benefits:
- income related ESA
- Income based JSA
- Income Support
- Housing Benefit
- Working Tax Credits
- Child Tax Credits
Universal credit is a means tested benefit, designed to help people and families with low incomes or who are out of employment and either looking for work, or who are too unwell to work due to a condition, ill health or disability. Universal Credit is paid on a monthly basis in arrears, and entitlement is worked out by comparing the basic financial needs the Government says you need to live on with your financial resources and household income.
If you live with your partner, all of the Universal Credit is paid to one member of the couple and the amount awarded will depend on the income and circumstances of all the household members. To find out how much your household may be entitled to you can use one of the following benefit calculators:
Most new claimants are subject to a 7 day “waiting period” after you claim before your entitlement starts. As Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, this means you will have to wait at least 5 weeks before you receive your first payment. If this is likely to cause you hardship or financial difficulties, you may be able to claim a short term advance payment or apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment from your local authority. Discretionary Payments are one-off payments to help people with their housing costs where their Universal Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction awards still leave them struggling to pay their rent and council tax, and you can find out more about how to apply on your Local Authority’s website.
There are some groups of people who are exempt from the 7-day wait period, and these include:
- People claiming Universal Credit as a couple and are now claiming as single
- People claiming Universal Credit as single and are now claiming as a couple
- Anyone claiming Universal Credit within the last 6 months but whose claim ended because they earned too much
- If you are terminally ill
- People who have been the victim of domestic violence within the last 6 months
- 16 or 17 years old and have no parental support
- People who have left prison in the last month
- Anyone entitled to Contribution Based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) or Contribution based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) within the last 3 months
- Anyone entitled to income related JSA, ESA or Income Support within the last 3 months who stopped claiming to start working
- Anyone entitled to income related JSA, ESA or Income Support within the last month
- Anyone entitled to Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit or Housing Benefit within the last month
A full service roll-out of Universal Credit is now live in BN1, BN2 and BN3 post codes, which means that residents in Brighton and Hove wishing to make a new claim for any of the above benefits will now have to make an application for Universal Credit. Whether you can make an application for Universal Credit is also based on your circumstances, and to find out if your post code is now ‘live’ please visit https://www.universalcreditinfo.net. To find out more about the Universal Credit roll-out schedule please visit https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Universal-Credit-timetable/Universal-Credit-(UC)-roll-out-2017 .
If you currently receive any of the above benefits, you cannot make a claim for Universal Credit at the same time. If you receive any of the above benefits and your circumstances have not changed, you do not have to do anything until the Department for Work and Pensions contact you.
It is important to note that once you make a claim for Universal Credit you will no longer be eligible to claim for any of the ‘legacy’ benefits listed above, even if you are currently waiting for a Tribunal hearing. This means that if you are currently appealing a decision regarding your claim for Employment and Support Allowance and start a claim for Universal Credit you will no longer be eligible for Employment and Support Allowance, regardless of the outcome of your Appeal hearing. To find out more about what to do while you are awaiting the outcome of a mandatory reconsideration or awaiting an appeal hearing for ESA please contact Emma for more information.
Universal Credit and Housing Benefit
Universal credit can include a housing costs element to help you pay your rent. As Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, it is usually your responsibility to pass on the full rent to your landlord whether you’re a council or housing association tenant or renting privately. In some situations, you can ask for your housing costs to be paid directly to your landlord. This is called a ‘managed payment’ and you can ask for your housing costs to be paid directly to your landlord if you have rent arrears or have other priority debts, or if you find it hard to budget because of personal circumstances, disability, mental health problem or addiction issues or if you live in temporary or supported accommodation.
To find out more about managed payments call 0800 328 9344 if you manage your universal credit claim by phone or 0800 328 5644 if you manage your universal credit claim online.
Your landlord can ask for your housing costs to be paid direct to them if you owe at least 2 months’ rent. They will need to complete the necessary paperwork at https://www.gov.uk and should provide details of your arrears. Landlords can also request deductions from your universal credit towards the rent you currently owe. Deductions should stop once your arrears are cleared.
Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI)
From April 2018 home owners who receive financial support to cover the cost of mortgage interest payments will no longer receive SMI in the form of a benefit, and will instead need to apply for a Support for Mortgage Interest Loan from the DWP, the cost of which would be recovered when your home is sold. To find out more about if these changes will affect you, or for more information please visit https://www.gov.uk.
Benefits Advice & Support Service
ASSERT are pleased to announce that we are now able to renew our Benefits Advice and Support Service and from Monday 4th December 2017 our Benefits Case Worker Emma will be reinstating Benefit Drop-In sessions.
Emma will be hosting a fortnightly ‘benefit drop-in’ where ASSERT members can come to seek advice or guidance on any benefit related issues. This could include general queries or help with an application form. This will be on a first come, first served basis. The drop-in will start at 10am and end at 12pm with 45 minute slots available. Please note, you may have to wait to be seen, or may not get a slot due to people arriving ahead of you. Dates for this are printed below.
Evening Appointment Slots
To help people who cannot get to appointments during normal working hours (9am-5pm) we will be offering fortnightly opportunities to have evening appointments to discuss your benefit queries. These will be pre-bookable by emailing Emma at email@example.com . The first session will be on Tuesday the 12th December. Slots will be between 5pm and 8pm and will be 45 minutes long. Dates for this are printed overleaf. Please note evening drop in slots are by appointment only.
Please note that all appointments attended for the above sessions are to discuss benefit queries only. If you have any other query you need to book a separate casework meeting by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01273 234850
Monday 4th December 10am—12pm,
Monday 18th December 10am—12pm
Monday 29th January 10am—12pm
Monday 12th February 10am—12pm
Monday 26th February 10am—12pm
Monday 12th March 10am– 12pm
Monday 26th March 10am—12pm
Monday 9th April 10am—12pm
Monday 23rd April 10am—12pm
Monday 7th May 10am—12pm
Monday 21st May 10am—12pm
(Advanced Booking Only)Tuesday 12th December 5pm—8pm
Tuesday 9th January 5pm—8pm
Tuesday 23rd January 5pm—8pm
Tuesday 6th February 5pm—8pm
Tuesday 20th February 5pm—8pm
Tuesday 6th March 5pm—8pm
Tuesday 20th March 5pm—8pm
Tuesday 3rd April 5pm—8pm
Tuesday 17th April 5pm—8pm
Tuesday 5th May 5pm—8pm
Tuesday 15th May 5pm—8pm