Universal Credit - Are you Ready?
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a new simpler, single monthly payment for people of working age which brings together some of the benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now, whether you are in or out of work.
Universal Credit will replace:
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income related Employment Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
When does Universal Credit start and who does it affect?
Most people won't be affected to begin with. At the moment Universal Credit only affects newly unemployed people in certain areas of the country. Boston began its rollout on 13 April 2015 but this is only for certain groups of people. If you are already claiming one or more of the benefits listed above you should carry on claiming as normal. You will be told when you need to do anything differently.
Even if you're not affected straight away there are things you can do now to make sure you are ready for Universal Credit.
What's different about Universal Credit?
Did you know that Universal Credit is a single, monthly payment into a bank account? You will need to have a bank account set up and ready to accept any payments you may receive in the future.
Universal Credit is paid in a different way to current benefits:
- It is paid monthly into an account you choose
- If you get help with your rent, this will be included in your monthly payment - you will then pay your landlord yourself.
- If both you and your partner are eligible, you will get one monthly payment for the household.
Click on the following link to get more information: How to have your Benefits Paid
Managing your Universal Credit claim online
In time Universal Credit will be managed online. At the moment you make your claim online and any changes you need to report will need to be phoned through to the service centre.
Click on the following link to make a claim: Apply for Universal Credit
Working and claiming Universal Credit
There are no limits on how many hours a week you can work if you're claiming Universal Credit. Instead, the amount you'll get will gradually reduce as you earn more, so you won't lose all your benefits at once.
Changes to Universal Credit from 1st April 2016
The work allowance in Universal Credit, the amount you can earn without your benefit being affected, will be reduced from April 2016. For disabled people and people with children it will be reduced to £192 per month if you have housing costs and £397 per month if you don't have housing costs. The work allowance will be abolished altogether from April 2016 for non-disabled, childless claimants meaning your benefit is reduced as soon as you start earning.
The Childcare Costs element of Universal Credit currently pays for 70% of your registered childcare costs up to a monthly limit of £532 for one child or £912 for two or more children. From 11 April 2016, this will increase so that you will be able to claim back up to 85% of your paid out childcare costs up to a monthly limit of £646 for one child or £1108 for two or more children.
For more information on Universal Credit and how you can be ready for the changeover you can go to the Department of Work and Pensions website where there are lots of useful fact sheets and videos for you to watch. If you are a Landlord you can also find some useful information on how you may be affected.
Click on the following link to find out more about Universal Credit: Universal Credit
The Money Advice Service can also provide you with further help on budgeting and planning for Universal Credit. There is also advice on the bank accounts available to be able to receive your benefits.
Click on the following link to go to the Money Advice Service website: Money Advice Service
If you are a Social Landlord the DWP have produced a useful guide which can be found using the following link: Social Landlord Support Pack