The Government continues to replace a number of benefits to make the benefit system simpler and improve the incentives for work. Only one claim needs to be made and only one payment will be made every month. Universal Credit is being introduced gradually across the country and the Government aims to have it fully rolled out by 2020.
The payments will be made monthly in arrears so it is important that you budget for your money to last the whole month.
Claiming Universal Credit is different to the way you currently claim benefits. You will be expected to apply for Universal Credit online via the internet and manage your claim through an online account.
Claims will be administered by the Department of Work and Pensions at a central location rather than by your local council, Job Centre Plus and benefits agency.
If you are on a low income, you can still be paid Universal Credit when you first start a new job or increase your part-time hours.
Universal Credit is very different to the current benefit system so it is worth finding out about these changes so you can start thinking about what you might need to do to prepare for it.
To find out more about Universal Credit, watch this video below:
If you need to apply for Universal Credit you can pick up some useful hints and tips by watching this video below:
For the most up-to-date guidance on Universal Credit, visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit or www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/categories/universal-credit
Will Universal Credit affect me?
We’ve created a quick quiz for you to see if you are eligible for Universal Credit. If you get state pension, please skip to the ‘If you get a state pension’ section below.
Click on the image below for a larger version of our Quick Benefit Quiz.
You can also visit here to find out if Universal Credit will affect you and also how much money you might receive if eligible for benefits: www.entitledto.co.uk
What is the 'Benefit Cap'?
The ‘Benefit Cap’ is a limit on the total amount of benefit that most people, who don’t get a state pension, can get.
See the ‘Will Universal Credit affect me?’ section to find out if it will apply to you, or visit the following site for more information: www.gov.uk/benefit-cap
What benefits will Universal Credit replace?
Universal Credit is replacing the following benefits:
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
Instead of receiving a payment for each of the above benefits separately, you will receive one payment at the end of the month. The payment will be made into a bank account and you will have to pay one month’s rent in advance before you receive your payment.
See the sections on ‘Rent & Universal Credit’ and ‘Setting up a bank account’ below for more info.
Rent & Universal Credit
Your universal credit payment will include all the money you can claim in benefits (that were replaced by Universal Credit), including your rent.
The first payment you receive will only cover the next month’s rent.
To pay the first month’s rent, you should start paying whatever you can afford towards this now. If you cannot afford to make any payments, you should look at what you can do whilst you wait for your first payment here: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/support-while-waiting-for-benefit-payments
How do I claim Universal Credit?
You must claim Universal Credit online, here: www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit
Once you start the form you cannot go back to it as the form cannot be saved. You will need to complete the form online in one sitting so make sure you have all of the information with you before you fill in the form.
You will need the following information:
- your National Insurance number (can be found on pay slips, P60, letters about tax, pensions and benefits or if you still cannot find it, visit here for what to do: www.gov.uk/lost-national-insurance-number )
- an email address (to create an e-mail address if you do not already have one, visit login.live.com or accounts.google.com/signup to make a new, free email address that you can access wherever there is internet)
- your phone number (this can be a landline or mobile number)
- your address
- Crown Simmon Housing’s address (find our address on the contact us page here: Contact Us)
- the amount of rent that you are charged (check your last rent statement or check your rent account online at mytenancy.co.uk here: www.mytenancy.co.uk/cgi-bin/netacc.cgi/xxhome.htm )
- your bank account details (if you do not have a bank account, see the ‘Setting up a bank account’ section below)
- details of any savings that you have
- details of any salary or income that you receive
I don't have a computer/internet at home/I have a computer/internet but might need more help
If you or someone you know needs to apply for Universal Credit but doesn’t have or knot how to use the internet or a computer then there are a lot of people and places willing to help.
Your local council may offer help through libraries or other projects – to find your local council click here (opens gov.uk site to find local council): gov.uk/find-local-councilOnce you have found your local (district or county) council, you can visit their website and search for the following (this should take you to results for the relevant pages): computersOnce you have search results there may be information under ‘libraries’ or similar if the answer does not appear immediately.
The services below offer help with gaining more confidence using computers and the internet:
- UK Online Centres offer workshops and courses on how to use the internet and email, to find your nearest centre visit their website here: ukonlinecentres.com/index.php?
- Go ON UK run workshops and courses on using computers and the internet, you can find out about if these are running in your area by visiting the Go ON Local site (opens local.go-on.co.uk site with post code search) here: local.go-on.co.uk/browse/events/
- Your local library may be able to help you with general computer skills training. To find your local library please click here (you will be taken to a gov.uk site for local library services): gov.uk/local-library-services
- The National Careers Service also provides information on gaining internationally recognised qualifications in IT for beginners to advanced users. Please click here to find out more about IT qualifications (opens a nationalcarrersservice.direct.gov.uk site): nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/courses/typesoflearning/Pages/computerskills.aspx
Setting up a bank account
This website gives some helpful advice on setting up a bank account: www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/how-to-open-switch-or-close-your-bank-account
If you do not already have a bank account, you can also try opening a Basic Bank Account.
To set-up a basic bank account:
- Look out a form of ID (call or ask the bank about what ID they will accept)
- go into your nearest branch (you can find out more about the best basic accounts here: www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/basic-bank-accounts
- ask specifically for a Basic Bank Account
You can also go to your local Credit Union, even if you have a record of fraud.
Get more info on basic bank accounts and credit unions here: www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/credit-unions or at your local CAB (find your local CAB here: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/how-we-provide-advice/advice/search-for-your-local-citizens-advice )
If you get a state pension
You might be able to claim ‘Pension Credit’.
Age UK has some great information on Pension Credit, including how to claim:
- See why it’s good to try and claim Pension Credit, even if you don’t think you’d be able to, here: www.ageuk.org.uk/money-matters/claiming-benefits/pension-credit/6-pension-credit-myths/
- There are actually some perks to claiming Pension Credit, find out what they are here: www.ageuk.org.uk/money-matters/claiming-benefits/pension-credit/the-perks-of-getting-pension-credit/
- Find out how to claim Pension Credit here: www.ageuk.org.uk/money-matters/claiming-benefits/pension-credit/how-to-claim-pension-credit/
The government’s website also gives an overview to Pension Credit here: www.gov.uk/pension-credit
To find out more about Universal Credit, visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit or www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/categories/universal-credit
What if I already claim benefits but I'm still struggling to make payments?
entitledto.co.uk will tell you if you can get other benefits.
You may be able to use some benefits to help pay your bills (including rent, service charges, gas, electricity or water bills). You should contact your Jobcentre Plus with details of who you owe and how much, your customer reference number (for bills) and your National Insurance number.
You can find more information about this here: www.gov.uk/bills-benefits
You can also:
- call your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) – find your local CAB here: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/how-we-provide-advice/advice/search-for-your-local-citizens-advice/
- call your local Shelter Advisor – find your local Shelter Advisor here: england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/advice_services_directory
- call StepChange. They provide free help to deal with debt – find out more about StepChange here: www.stepchange.org
- call Christians Against Poverty (CAP). They also provide free help to deal with debt. CAP is free for everyone, it doesn’t matter what religion you are or personal beliefs that you have – find out more about CAP here: capuk.org
- call PayPlan. They also offer free help to get you out of debt – find out more about PayPlan here: www.payplan.com