What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit has replaced new claims for:
- 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.
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,
- Not in receipt of a Severe Disability Premium; AND
- 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 is 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.
What will happen to me as a claimant?
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.
Claims to Universal Credit are made online and you have to maintain your claim online.
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.
How is Universal Credit different?
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.
How will my Universal Credit be paid?
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.
What does this change about housing benefit? I’ve never had to pay DGHP before!
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.
How can I claim 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.
What happens if my claim is successful?
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.
How can I get ready?
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.
I am on Universal Credit but need help with my claim – who can I speak to?
- You can contact us for assistance. We also have a presence in our local job centres on a fortnightly basis so you are also welcome to pop in and see us there.
- Universal Credit will also be able to assist you. You can ask them questions through your online journal and they will reply. Also, if you meet with your work coach, speak to them, they are there to support you with your claim.
- 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 for more information.
- Other agencies such as DAGCAS and Welfare Rights can also offer you assistance.
- DGHP 0800 011 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)
You may find these attachments to be of help as well:
- Universal Credit Full Service FAQs
- What Do I Need In Order To Apply For Universal Credit
- Prepare for Universal Credit Checklist