What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a single monthly payment which brings together a number of different benefits. If you are on a low income or currently out of work you maybe able to receive Universal Credit.
The benefits that have been combined are:
Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Working Tax Credits
Child Tax Credits
Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears directly into your bank or building society account, so you should budget for your money to last the month.
Take a look at the transition rollout schedule to find out when Universal Credit will be rolled out in your area.
Once you start to claim Universal Credit, we will no longer receive housing benefit directly from the local authority on your behalf. You will be responsible for paying your rent and service charges to us. Your tenancy agreement says that you have to pay your rent in advance and once you are transferred to Universal Credit, you will need to make sure that it is paid on time.
Why not also download our handy pocket guide on universal credit? That way you can refer back to any information when needed. Alternatively, you can call us on 0300 1234 009 and we will send you a guide by post.
Being online is a key part of getting universal credit (UC). Universal Credit can only be claimed via the internet and you are expected to manage your claim through an online account so if you do not have access at home you may need to go to your job centre, council offices or your local library. Claims will be administered by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) at a central location rather than by your local council, jobcentre plus, or benefits agency.
What you will need to make a claim
Before you sit down at a computer to make your claim, you will need to make sure you have the following information to hand;
- Your National Insurance Number
- Your email address
- Your phone number
- Your address
- Your landlord’s address
- How much rent you pay (proof may be required, such as a tenancy agreement)
- Your bank details
- Details of any savings you have
- Full details of your salary or any other income (including other benefits)
If you have children;
- Their details, Child Benefit number
- Childcare Provider’s address and registration number
If you think you are going to struggle to manage a budget or you feel you are falling into debt talk to us before your situation gets out of control. It’s important to always keep us updated so we can help you keep on top of your rent. We may be able to give you advice, set up an affordable rent agreement or direct you to an agency that can provide you with support.
Our staff can help you with:
Making a claim for Universal Credit
Advice on how to budget monthly
Advice on how to manage any debts you already have
Support to open a bank account
Support with savings via local credit unions
Setting up a Direct Debit to pay your rent
Setting up affordable agreements to support you to get in advance with your rent
Please contact the National Universal Credit Freephone helpline on 0800 328 9344 if you require any further information and advice.
Universal Credit and Council Tax Support
When claiming Universal Credit you must also claim council tax support directly from your local authority otherwise you may fall behind with your payments.
Previously, housing benefit and council tax support were claimed together on the same form, but now Universal Credit (which contains a housing element) is claimed online from the Department of Work and Pensions, and council tax support from you local authority.
Discretionary Housing Payments
If Housing Benefit is one element of your Universal Credit claim and you are struggling to pay your rent, you can ask your local council whether they may consider you for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). Different authorities have different rules, so ask the housing department if you can apply and explain your current situation. You cannot claim DHP if you’re behind because you have been sanctioned by Jobcentre Plus.
For further information Turn2Us provide an informative guide on discretionary housing payments.
If you do find yourself struggling it may be that you can get help from a local food bank. Food banks provide up to 3 days worth of food to people in need. They are often run by a church or community group.
You would need to be referred and provided with a food bank voucher. You can get a voucher from local charities, doctors' surgeries, health visitors, social workers, Citizens Advice, other welfare advice centres and us your landlord.
You can click here for more helpful advice from the Money Advice Service website.
Alternatively, if you have any further questions, please call us on 0300 1234 009.