We've provided some basic information to help you find out more about Universal Credit, what it could mean for you and how you can prepare for the change.
Universal Credit is a new monthly payment for people who are either unemployed, or working but on a low income.
It will eventually replace all of the following benefits and tax credits:
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Working Tax Credit
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Carmarthenshire is now a Universal Credit full service area. If you are in receipt of one of the above benefits and have a qualifying change of circumstances you will need to make a claim for Universal Credit. Rather than claiming each of the above benefits individually you will make one claim to Universal Credit.
Universal Credit will include financial support for sickness, disability, housing, children, unemployment or low income employment.
Universal Credit claims will be automatically updated by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if you move in and out of work, you will not have to submit a new claim if you become unemployed, if your hours increase or if you change your job.
Universal Credit does not include the following welfare benefits and you will continue to have to claim these separately:
- Council Tax Reduction
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA) / Personal Independence Payments (PIP)
- Child Benefit
If you want to get an estimate of how much Universal Credit you could be entitled to and how much it will change when you are in and out of work use the Universal Credit online calculator on the Policy in Practice website.
Yes. If you currently claim any one of the six legacy benefits mentioned in the section above and have a qualifying change of circumstances, it is likely you will need to claim Universal Credit. The Department of Works and Pensions have prepared a ‘Universal Credit and you’ guide that covers the following areas:
- Your responsibilities
- Your commitment
- Full time work search
- Conditionality, Opening up work Taper
- Help with eligible childcare costs
Carmarthenshire became a Full Service Universal Credit area on December 12 2018.
Universal Credit is being introduced in stages. You don’t need to do anything until you hear from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about moving to Universal Credit, unless you have a qualifying change in circumstances and claim one of the six legacy benefits (see: 'What is Universal Credit?').
You will need to make and manage your Universal Credit claim online so you will need to find out where you can access the internet and how to use it.
If you don’t use or have access to the internet or a computer, you can speak to the staff in any of the libraries who will be able to book a computer for you to use.
In order to claim Universal Credit you will need to have a bank account and an e-mail address.
Get a bank or Credit Union account
You cannot get Universal Credit paid into a post office account so you will need to set up a bank or credit union account. There are lots of options available to you, even if you have a poor credit history. To find out more about opening the right account for you call or visit your nearest bank, building society or credit union.
You do not need to wait until you have claimed Universal Credit to open a bank account. In fact, you should open one as soon as possible so that you are ready
If you currently have housing benefit paid straight to your landlord. You will need to find out how to pay your rent when you receive your first Universal Credit claim. You will need to know things like:
- who your landlord is,
- how to pay them,
- what amount of rent you need to pay and,
- what date you need to pay them on each month.
Speak to your landlord / housing association to find out more about what you need to do or if you are unsure contact the housing benefit team for information.
Setting up an e-mail address
All claims are managed online, so you need to know where you can access the internet and you will need an e-mail account. Click on the below links for help on setting up a new e-mail account:
Practice and prepare
Making your money last a whole month can be difficult, especially if you are not used to it. Under Universal Credit you will need to make your money last a whole four weeks until you receive your next benefit payment. You will also need to make sure that you don’t miss making any important payments such as rent or bills in this period.
There is further help on 'Universal Credit: help with managing your money' on the gov.uk website.
You will need to make your Universal Credit claim online here. You will then be given an appointment with your work coach to discuss your claimant commitment.
When you’re claim is awarded you will receive:
- One benefit payment – instead of your current separate payments
- Your payment once a month – instead of weekly or fortnightly
- Your payment into a bank or credit union account – instead of into a post office account which you cannot get Universal Credit paid into
REMEMBER: If you used to claim housing benefit you will now receive your entitlement as part of your Universal Credit monthly benefit payment.
Once you receive your benefit payment you will need to:
- manage / budget your benefit for a whole month (4 weeks) until your next benefit payment
- pay all of your rent to your landlord yourself each month
In certain circumstances you may be able to set up an alternative payment arrangement for Universal Credit. This can mean having your Universal Credit paid more often than monthly, having it split between you and your partner, or having your rent taken out of your universal credit payment and paid to your landlord before you receive your benefit.
Speak to your work coach if you would like more information on an alternative payment arrangement.
Top tips for landlords:
- Ensure your tenants know how much their rent is
Speak to your tenants early to make sure they know how much their rent is, and that they are ready to pay their rent to you directly.
- Apply for an Alternative Payment Arrangement
If you have tenants who may struggle to pay their rent or are in rent arrears, you can apply for their housing costs to be paid to you directly from the start of their claim.
- Claimants can apply for an advance
Are you aware new Universal Credit claimants can apply for an advance from the start of their claim that can be used to help pay rent and bills?
- Additional support for Housing Benefit claimants
Remind tenants moving from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit that they will automatically receive an extra two weeks’ Housing Benefit support which they don’t need to pay back.
- Encourage tenants to set up direct debits
They will need a bank account for their Universal Credit payments, and having a direct debit or standing order set up may help them make sure their rent payments are made on time.
- Get to know your Partnership Manager
Build strong links with your Partnership Manager – they can share contacts to help you resolve complex matters.
- Encourage tenants to claim straight away
Encourage tenants who have a change of circumstances, such as losing their job, to make a claim for Universal Credit straight away so they can continue to pay their rent.
- Make sure your tenant has the right paperwork
If you’re a private landlord, you’ll need to provide your tenants with suitable signed paperwork that confirms how much their rent liability is, as this is required for the verification process.
More information for landlords can be found on the Universal Credit website, where you can also find out how to contact the DWP partnership teams.
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