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DGHP

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What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit was introduced by the UK government in October 2013.  Since 27th April 2015 in Dumfries and Galloway, Universal Credit has been available to single people who are under 64 (as of 6/7/17), with no children, and are new Jobseekers.  However, this is changing in 2018.

From 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.

What is Universal Credit replacing?

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.

Watch a short video below to see how Universal Credit works.

When does it happen?

Universal Credit was introduced by the UK government in October 2013.  Since 27th April 2015 in Dumfries and Galloway, Universal Credit has been available to single people who are under 64 (as of 6/7/17), with no children, and are new Jobseekers.

From 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 May 2018 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.

What will happen to me as a claimant?

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 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.

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.

What change of circumstance will lead to a claim for Universal Credit?

Click here to see what change of circumstances could lead to you having to claim Universal Credit from 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.

Why is Universal Credit coming in now?

The benefits system has undergone lots of changes under the UK government’s Welfare Reform Bill but this is the biggest change that we have seen.

The UK government believes that Universal Credit will help you move into work as most salaries are paid monthly and by receiving your benefits in a single monthly payment, you will become more used to managing a monthly budget.

The UK government wants to make work pay, and Universal Credit makes it easier for you to manage your money when you do move into a new job.

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 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 you will have a face-to-face interview to attend at your nearest 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.

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.

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.

You may be able to get extra help and support with this.  DG TAP may be able to help you with this. More information can be found at here or on Facebook or Twitter.

Getting online

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.

Who can help me?

DGHP 0800 011 3447 or 0845 606 3447

Dumfries and Galloway Council 030 33 33 3000

Money Advice Service 0300 500 5000

Turn2us 0808 802 2000

Universal Jobmatch 0845 606 0234 (for Jobcentre Plus)

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