In October 2013, the Government introduced Universal Credit to help make the benefits system simpler. It provides a single payment for people looking for work, those unable to work because of illness or disability, or on a low income and working. It is paid by bank transfer to each household on a monthly basis, and is paid in arrears.
Put simply, if you receive any of the benefits listed below, you get one payment into your bank account, rather than a single payment for each.
Which benefits are affected?
The following benefits are being replaced:
- Income support
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income based Job Seekers Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Working tax credit
- Child tax.
Who is affected?
Anyone who receives any of the above benefits will be affected by Universal Credit.
How will I be affected?
Single people making new claims now receive one lump sum for your household to cover all the benefits (including housing benefit) and tax credits, listed above. If your Housing Benefit is currently paid directly to your landlord, this has stopped and you need to make arrangements to pay your rent yourself.
You will have to set up a Direct Debit to make sure your rent is paid to us, otherwise you could get into arrears.
If you don’t already have a bank account you should consider opening one – The Money Advice Service have more information about how you can set up and manage a bank account.
This will be a big change for a lot of people who are used to having rent come out from benefit directly. With the change, some people across the UK may struggle to prioritise essential payments such as rent and may be worried about rent arrears. If this is the case, talk to our Relationship Specialists who will be able to talk through a number of options with you, including setting up a Direct Debit.
How can I prepare?
One of the best things you can do to prepare for Universal Credit is to get your budget in order. The Universal Credit Personal Planner can help you prepare for the changes that the new service brings.
If you want to start looking for work, you can register with Universal Jobmatch to get matched up with jobs, advice and tips for your job search.
There are a number of different benefit calculators that you can use to check what benefits you can get, how to claim and what will be affected if you start work. You can find more information about benefit calculators on the official Gov website.
Where can I find out more?
Our Relationship Specialists are here to help and can put you in touch with the right support for your family if you are experiencing financial difficulties.
Please contact us on 01494 476100 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.