What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is part of the Government’s wider welfare reform plan. It replaces the following 6 working age benefits into a single household benefit payment.
- Jobseekers Allowance (income based)
- Working Tax Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance (income based)
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit
Who will it affect?
- Those at least 16 years old but less than the qualifying age for pension credit.
- Those who are not in full time education.
- Those who have capital under £16000
Please see www.entitledto.co.uk to use the eligibility checker.
Universal Credit will change the way you receive and manage your money. You can get ready by.
- Opening a bank account – Universal Credit will be paid into a bank account so you will need to open one if you don’t currently have one. This can be a bank account, Post Office account or a Credit Union account.
- A helpful tip could be to keep your Universal Credit payment in a separate account from the rest of your income this way you can budget for things like rent and bills.
Preparing for Universal Credit
Universal Credit is `Digital by Design` which means you will need to make and manage your claim online. If you do not have internet access at home, your local Library and Job Centre Plus offices have access.
Creating a Monthly Household Budget
- Use this budget planner https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/budget-planner to help set out and plan where you are spending your money and see where you can make savings.
- Prioritise essential bills such as rent, council tax and energy bills.
- If your circumstances change and you are struggling to pay your rent you should contact your Rental Income Officer immediately.
Getting back in to work
- If you are claiming Universal Credit your Work Coach will give you advice and support to get you back to work.
- Opendoor Homes offers several employment and training courses, please contact us for more information.
Getting the Right Benefits
- If you are receiving Universal Credit and are struggling there may be additional benefits you are entitled to. Visit entitledto.co.uk
Starting to Save
- Universal Credit will be a single monthly payment, paid in arrears. This means when you apply for Universal Credit you will not receive your first payment for at least five weeks and from then on, once a month.
- You can start preparing for the switchover to Universal Credit by putting aside some money every week and by getting your rent account into credit.
- Using a separate account will help you manage your money easier. Separate your Universal Credit with your day to day income.
How to Claim Universal Credit
The first step is to access www.gov.uk and verify online. You will need to set up an email if you don’t have one already. Prior to making an application you will need the following information:
- National Insurance Number.
- The bank details of the account money is to be paid into.
- Tenancy agreement.
- Details of savings or other incomes.
- Details of any income not received from working.
- Details of any benefits you receive.
- Details of any children including Child Benefit number.
- You may also need the details of people living with you such as partner.
Your Online Claim
- Once you have made your application for Universal Credit, it is your responsibility to maintain your claim. It will be up to you as the claimant to log in to update any changes in circumstances or communicate with your Work Coach via the Journal
- You will need to keep to your claimant commitment, which may include looking for employment or attending meetings with your Work Failure to follow the terms of your Claimant Commitment, or other requirements set out by your Work Coach will lead to your benefit being ‘sanctioned’
- A benefit sanction is when your benefits are stopped for a set period; sanctions can last for weeks, months or even years. If your benefit has been sanctioned you should work with your Work Coach to try and fix the issue but in the meantime, you should notify your Rental Income Officer immediately.
- Universal Credit is managed online so you would need your Online Journal if you need to report a change of circumstances or ask questions about the claim. If you don’t have access to the internet, there are many ways you can get online. Please click on the link to see available computers in Barnet.
- Universal Credit payments will be paid into your bank account which is why it is important to open one if you haven’t currently got one. Most banks offer a variety of different accounts, some people who have no or poor credit rating may find it difficult to access credit or certain bank accounts. Basic accounts can be accessed with poor credit history. It might be a good idea to do a bit of research and speak to staff at your local banks.
- Find out Library opening times here. https://barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/libraries/library-opening-times.html
- Join the Library here. https://barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/libraries/request-a-library-card.html
- If you need assistance with your Universal Credit application or accessing an advance payment contact the Welfare Reform Task Force on 0208 359 2442
- You can use a computer for free. Get help with your Universal Credit application and receive advice on getting into employment by contacting BOOST on 0208 359 5600 or visiting the team at the Burnt Oak library.
- For additional courses including English Language courses contact Jacqui Jones on 020 8359 4777
- The Money Advice Service offers lots of helpful information including a budget planner