Universal Credit - Are you Ready?
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a new, simpler, single monthly payment for people of working age which brings together some of the benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now, whether you are in or out of work.
Universal Credit will replace:
- Jobseekers Allowance
- Employment Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
When does Universal Credit start and who does it affect?
Most people won't be affected to begin with. At the moment Universal Credit only affects newly unemployed people or those that have a change of circumstances that would prompt a change of benefit. Boston began its rollout of the Live Service on 13 April 2015 but this was only for certain groups of people. If you are already claiming one or more of the benefits listed above you should carry on claiming as normal. You will be told when you need to do anything differently.
As part of the 2017 Autumn Budget Announcements claimants will be unable to submit new claims to Universal Credit in a Live Service site from midnight on 31st December 2017. Instead they will be directed to claim one of the legacy benefits listed above until the Full Service is rolled out. Boston is currently a Live Service area.
Universal Credit Full Service, which will be the digital by default way of claiming and managing your Universal Credit on-line, is due to roll out in Boston from September 2018.
Even if you're not affected straight away there are things you can do now to make sure you are ready for Universal Credit.
So what's different about Universal Credit?
Did you know that Universal Credit is a single, monthly payment into a bank account? You will need to have a bank account set up and ready to accept any payments you may receive in the future.
Universal Credit is paid in a different way to current benefits:
- It is paid monthly into an account you choose
- If you get help with your rent, this will be included in your monthly payment - you will then pay your landlord yourself.
- If both you and your partner are eligible, you will get one monthly payment for the household.
Click on the following link to get more information: How to have your Benefits Paid
Managing your Universal Credit claim online
In time Universal Credit will be managed online. At the moment you make your claim online and any changes you need to report will need to be phoned through to the service centre. The Full Service will require you to manage your claim on-line and this includes reporting any changes in circumstance. It is advisable to think about getting Internet ready now and looking at your options for accessing and managing online.
Click on the following link to make a claim: Apply for Universal Credit
Working and claiming Universal Credit
There are no limits on how many hours a week you can work if you're claiming Universal Credit. Instead, the amount you'll get will gradually reduce as you earn more, so you won't lose all your benefits at once.
Changes to Universal Credit Since 1st April 2016
- The work allowance in Universal Credit, the amount you can earn without your benefit being affected, will be reduced from April 2016. For disabled people and people with children it will be reduced to £192 per month if you have housing costs and £397 per month if you don't have housing costs. The work allowance will be abolished altogether from April 2016 for non-disabled, childless claimants meaning your benefit is reduced as soon as you start earning.
- The Childcare Costs element of Universal Credit currently pays for 70% of your registered childcare costs up to a monthly limit of £532 for one child or £912 for two or more children. From 11 April 2016, this will increase so that you will be able to claim back up to 85% of your paid out childcare costs up to a monthly limit of £646 for one child or £1108 for two or more children.
Changes to the Scheme from April 2017 including the budget announcements in November 2017
- Claims made on or after 1st April 17 from those aged between 18 and under 22 years of age will not get housing costs as part of Universal Credit (some exemptions apply)
- Claims where there are 3 or more children after 1st April 2017 will be signposted to claim legacy benefits until February 2019
- Removal of the 7 waiting days from April 18
- Housing Costs for Temporary Accommodation will be met through Housing Benefit instead of Universal Credit from April 2018
- Where there is financial difficulty Advance Payments can be claimed of up to 100% of the first payment and recovery will also be extended to up to 12 months.
- From April 18, those that transition from Housing Benefit to the Housing Element of Universal Credit will be supported with a 2 week run on of Housing Benefit which will be paid automatically.
For more information on Universal Credit and how you can be ready for the changeover you can go to the Department of Work and Pensions website where there are lots of useful fact sheets and videos for you to watch. If you are a Landlord you can also find some useful information on how you may be affected.
Click on the following link to find out more about Universal Credit: Universal Credit
The Money Advice Service can also provide you with further help on budgeting and planning for Universal Credit. There is also advice on the bank accounts available to be able to receive your benefits.
Click on the following link to go to the Money Advice Service website: Money Advice Service
If you are a Social Landlord the DWP have produced a useful guide which can be found using the following link: Social Landlord Support Pack