What is Universal Credit?
Changes to Universal Credit
If you claim Universal Credit you will need to keep an eye on your online account for any ‘To Do’s’ as you will receive one regarding your rent increase. Universal Credit have just advised us that from 3rd April 2019, those claiming Universal Credit will be sent an action called a “To-Do” via their Universal Credit account. The To-do will be titled “Report any changes to your housing costs” to do.
This will ask for responses to a number of questions such as:
- Has your rent or service charge changed? – you will need to say YES
- Do you wish to report any other changes to your housing? – you will need to say YES
- When did your rent or service charge change? – you will need to say 1st April 2019
You should then be asked what your new rent charge is. If you no longer have your rent increase letter or are unsure contact us and we can advise you what your rent charge is.
Mixed Age Couples
- If you live with a partner and one of you has reached pension age, but the other hasn’t, then this could affect you.
- If you are not already getting Pension Credit or Housing Benefit then from 15th May 2019 you will have to claim Universal Credit instead – which could be much less generous. Try and safeguard your income now by seeing if you are eligible for Housing Benefit or Pension Credit.
Mary is 56 and Robert is 66. Mary currently works part time and Robert has his state pension and they currently receive Housing Benefit. Mary is finishing work on 17th May which means they will only have Robert’s pension as income. As they already receive Housing Benefit they will still be able to make a claim for Pension Credit.
If they hadn’t already been getting Housing Benefit they would have to make a claim for Universal Credit and possibly not be entitled to receive any help.
Universal Credit Guides
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has created a website which guides you through the different stages of Universal Credit and contains useful information and videos to help if you are:
- New to Universal Credit
- Making a claim
- Already claiming
Click here to visit the DWP website.
Find out more about Universal Credit and how it may affect you below
- What is Universal Credit replacing?
- When does it happen?
- What will happen to me as a claimant?
- What will be different?
- How will my Universal Credit be paid?
- What does this change about housing benefit? I’ve never paid DGHP before!
- How can I claim Universal Credit?
- What happens if my claim is successful?
- How can I get ready?
- Who can help me?
Eventually, Universal Credit will replace:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment Support Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
Universal Credit will be paid directly to you, so you are responsible for all of your expenses. This means, you will also need to pay your own rent. Read more about Universal Credit and You here.
Watch a short video below to see how Universal Credit works.
From 16th May 2018 anyone who is of working age and is making a new claim for any of the benefits mentioned above will need to make a claim for Universal Credit.
Who will need to claim Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a working age benefit so will be available to those who are:-
- Aged 18 or over, but
- Under the qualifying age for Pension Credit. Click here to see if you are of Pension Credit age or not. gov.uk/state-pension-age
Older people who are already in receipt of Pension Credit will continue to receive Pension Credit.
However, from 15th May 2019 if you are not already in receipt of Pension Credit and one member of a couple is over and one under the qualifying age for Pension Credit then the couple will be treated as working age. This means they would be expected to claim Universal Credit.
The changeover to Universal Credit starts with all new claimants of:
- Housing Benefit
- Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based)
- Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related)
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
This will mean that from 16th May 2018 all new benefit claims for most working age claimants will be made to Universal Credit and most changes of circumstances will also direct claimants towards Universal Credit also.
Any Universal Credit payment you receive will include an amount that is to help with your daily living costs and an amount to help with your rent. Click here to view an example of a Universal Credit payment statement.
People already in receipt of one of the benefits that Universal Credit is replacing will continue to receive their existing benefits until they either have a change of circumstance or are moved over towards the end of the Universal Credit roll out. Groups who are most likely to gain will move over earlier.
This means you may continue to get your existing benefits for a while, if your circumstances stay the same.
You will be told when Universal Credit will affect you, and if there is no change in your situation, the UK government says you won’t be any worse off when you do move over.
Read more about ‘Universal Credit and You‘ here.
What change of circumstance will lead to a claim for Universal Credit?
Click here to see what changes in circumstances could lead to you having to claim Universal Credit from 16th May 2018.
Universal Credit will give you a single monthly payment. This will include all your support for housing, children and childcare costs. It will also cover support for disabled people and carers.
From your single monthly payment, you must manage your finances to cover all of your expenses. That can be anything from gas and electricity to food, shopping and most importantly your rent.
Universal Credit will also require you to maintain your claim online and to interact with your Job Centre work coach both online and in person.
Universal Credit will be paid directly to you, the claimant, straight into a bank, building society, Post Office or credit union account that you choose.
If you are claiming with a partner, a single payment will be made to cover you both.
Any claims made to Universal Credit from 16th May 2018 will require you to have a bank or building society account in your name so that payment of Universal Credit can be made direct to you.
If you need help to open a bank account then the money advice service offer some good advice on opening a bank account for benefits to be paid in.
Whether you have previously received partial housing benefit or all of your rent was covered by housing benefit, you will need to make sure yourself that DGHP are paid an amount for your rent.
Any help for your rent will be paid directly to you as part of your Universal Credit payment, so you will need to budget for the full cost of your rent.
Under Universal Credit Full Service, you should be given the choice of who receives the rental element. We strongly recommend that you ask for DGHP to be paid the rental element of your Universal Credit. You will however be required to make up any shortfalls that are not covered by Universal Credit.
If you are told that you should claim, you will need to submit a new claim online here. Once you have made a claim you will then have a face-to-face interview to attend at your nearest Job Centre.
If you need help to claim:
- Contact us and ask for a Switch Team referral.
- Contact DAGCAS to use their Help to Claim Service.
- Get online access at your nearest library or Job Centre.
If you can’t claim online, the library service across the region can offer internet access free of charge. Your nearest Job Centre also has computer access and free wi-fi that you can use in order to make your claim.
Dumfries and Galloway Council’s website has more information on this. Click here to find out more and to locate your nearest local library for internet access.
If you want to know more about claiming Universal Credit online click here – there are some useful videos to guide you through the process.
To get Universal Credit, you must accept and meet a ‘Claimant Commitment’.
Your claimant commitment says that you accept certain responsibilities in return for claiming Universal Credit. It will also say what happens if you don’t meet these responsibilities.
It takes into account things like your family, your health and your potential for future earnings. For example, if you are unemployed but able to work, you’ll be expected to focus full-time on looking for a job.
You will still get financial support if you’re not able to work. If you want to know more about Universal Credit once it is in payment click here for further guidance.
Bank accounts and managing your money
Sorting out how to manage your money is one of the most important things you can do to get ready for Universal Credit. You might need to get set up with a bank, building society, Post Office or credit union account.
If you are part of a couple who live together and are both claiming Universal Credit, you may want to open a joint account.
Advice and support is available if you need help with budgeting and managing your money.
There are also a couple of credit unions in operation at either end of the region. The unions help local people manage their money by offering low cost, affordable loans and simple ways to save.
Try to avoid doorstep lenders and payday loans, they have a much higher rate of interest.
If you have been affected by a doorstep loans or local loan sharks, you can report their illegal lending here in confidence.
Paying your rent
Remember, as soon as Universal Credit starts to affect you, you will be responsible for ensuring that your rent is paid. Make sure you speak to your work coach about having your housing element (rent) paid direct to DGHP.
DGHP offers a range of different ways that you can pay your rent, from direct debits to paying online or over the phone without even speaking to anyone! We can help your find a method of payment that suits you before you run into problems with payments.
Finding work or training
You can get support from various local organisations to find a job or to move towards work.
This might include training, volunteering or getting help with your CV.
Having internet access at home will help you to make your claim for Universal Credit. Being able to get online at your own convenience is also a good way to look for work.
According to industry experts, a quarter of all employers looking for new staff prefer to advertise online.
Having some computer skills can also make you more employable.
There are other advantages of getting online at home. It can help your children do better at school and on average, a family can save £560 a year by shopping and paying bills online – that’s not to be sniffed at!
There are also national companies who provide affordable computing. Try GetOnline@Home who can assist you to get a home computer or laptop for much less than you think.
DGHP 0800 011 3447 or 0845 606 3447
Dumfries and Galloway Council 030 33 33 3000
DAGCAS 0800 023 2581
Money Advice Service 0300 500 5000
Turn2us 0808 802 2000
Universal Jobmatch 0845 606 0234 (for Jobcentre Plus)
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