What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit will help you become more independent and will simplify the benefits system by bringing together a range of working-age benefits into a single streamlined payment

Universal Credit will replace:

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit

Universal Credit does not include the following welfare benefits and these will have to be claimed separately;

  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) / Personal Independence Payments (PIP)
  • Child Benefit
  • Pensions

Detailed information can be found at Universal Credit - GOV.UK

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Who is eligible to claim?

To claim Universal Credit you must:

  • live at your usual address in an area where Universal Credit is available
  • not be homeless, in supported or temporary accommodation, nor a homeowner
  • be a British citizen with a National Insurance number
  • be aged between 18 years and 60 years and six months
  • be fit for work
  • not have applied for a fitness for work note
  • consider themselves fit for work
  • not be pregnant nor have given birth within the last 15 weeks
  • not be entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support (IS), Incapacity Benefit (IB), Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • not be awaiting a decision on a claim for Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support (IS), Housing Benefit (HB), Child Tax Credit (CTC) or Working Tax Credit (WTC)
  • not be appealing against a decision of non-entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Income Support (IS)
  • not be awaiting the outcome of an application to revise a decision of non-entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support (IS) or Housing Benefit (HB)
  • not have any caring responsibilities (such as for a disabled person)
  • not be responsible for a young person under 20 who is in non-advanced education or training
  • not be self-employed, a company director or part of a limited liability partnership
  • not be in education or on a training course of any kind
  • not have a person acting on your behalf over your claim
  • have at least one suitable account that DWP can pay your money into
  • not live in the same household as a member of the regular or reserve forces who is away on duty
  • have lived in the UK for the last two years, and not have been abroad for more than four weeks continuously during that time
  • not be required to pay child maintenance via the Child Support Agency
  • not have savings in excess of £6,000 between the two of you
  • not be an approved foster parent (even if you currently have no foster children)
  • not be expecting to adopt a child in the next two months or (where family claims may be made) have adopted a child within the last 12 months
  • not expect to receive individual take home pay of more than £338 in the next month
  • not expect to receive joint take home pay of more than £541 in the next month
  • not expect to receive any earnings from self-employment in the next month

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When will Universal Credit affect me?

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages and will affect different people at different times.

For single Jobseeker`s living in Ceredigion making a new claim, Universal Credit will affect you from 9 November 2015.

For all other customers Universal Credit could affect you from as early as May 2016 although the exact time you are affected will depend on your circumstances.

If you are already claiming any of the benefits affected by Universal Credit you will be contacted by the DWP in plenty of time to tell you when you will be affected.

Visit Universal Credit - GOV.UK for more information on when Universal Credit will affect you.

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How do I make a claim?

Instead of claiming any of the benefits listed individually you will need to make one claim for Universal Credit instead.

You are expected to claim Universal Credit online. It takes an average of 30 minutes to complete an online application – it is not possible to 'save' an incomplete application.

A telephone number is available Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, for help and advice on making an online claim or if you get stuck while you`re making a claim. 0345 600 0723 or 0845 600 0723

The website address for further information and to make a claim online is:

https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/how-to-claim

When your 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

REMEMBER: If you are entitled 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.

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What do I need to do to be ready for Universal Credit?

Paying your rent

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. 

Get a Bank or Credit Union account

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.

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.

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How soon may I expect a payment of Universal Credit after applying?

You could be waiting around five weeks for your first payment. You can request an advance payment which is available to claimants who will be in `financial need' whilst waiting for your first payment or if you have had a change in circumstances during an assessment period that increases your award.

The maximum amount of advance is 50% of your estimated award or increase in award.

Applications have to be made within 21 days of the date of your claim or start of the assessment payment if your circumstances have changed.

You may need extra help with moving towards a single monthly payment. Universal Credit can be paid differently. This is called an alternative payment arrangement and examples of this are:

  • Having the housing costs element paid direct to your landlord
  • Being paid twice monthly instead of monthly

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What if my circumstances change?

If your circumstances change you must report this to the Universal Credit Service Centre telephone line on 0845 6000 723 or 0345 6000 723.

If you are receiving help with paying your Council Tax you will need to report the change in circumstances to the Benefits team at Ceredigion County Council.

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Can I still claim a Discretionary Housing Payment?

If you are no longer claiming Housing Benefit because you now receive the housing element through Universal Credit you can still apply to Ceredigion County Council for Discretionary Housing Payment.

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