What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a single payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income. It is being rolled out across the country and was live in Brentwood from the 15th November 2017.
Universal Credit will replace the following benefits:
- Housing Benefit
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
Universal Credit is calculated as a basic allowance for a single person or a couple plus additional amounts for:
- Each child or young person you are responsible for (with extra amounts if they are disabled)
- Child care costs
- If you have a 'limited capability for work' (This means that you are unable to work due to an illness or a disability)
- If you have regular and substantial caring responsibilities for a severely disabled person
- Housing costs (mortgage interest payments and rent payments if you are unemployed)
Universal Credit is paid by the Department for Work and Pensions, and unlike the benefits it replaces, it is paid monthly in arrears.
Universal Credit has been designed so that it is payable whether you are working or not. If you are on a low income and are moving in and out of work Universal Credit will remain in payment and be adjusted to suit your new financial circumstances. As your income increases your Universal Credit amount decreases until you no longer need it.
You will get the full amount possible if your household has no other income and has less than £6000 savings. There will be no award if your savings are over £16000.
Universal Credit is paid once a month and paid direct into a bank account. Your claim and your account will be accessed and managed online.
What happens if I am already receiving Housing Benefit?
You do not need to do anything if you are already receiving any of the six benefits listed above, and you will be informed when you need to make a claim for Universal Credit.
Should I claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit?
Depending on your circumstances you may not be able to claim Housing Benefit, and will need to make a claim for Universal Credit.
You will be still able to claim Housing Benefit if;
- You are a Pensioner - Universal Credit is a working age benefit and you will be able to claim Housing Benefit if you have reached state pension age
- You have three or more children - Families with three or more children will still be able to make a claim for Housing Benefit until November 2018.
- You are living in supported accommodation - If you rent from a charity, or housing association, and receive care or support as part of your rent then you may be able to claim Housing Benefit. Please speak to your landlord for more advice.
Council Tax Support
If you are liable to pay Council Tax then you will still be able to claim Local Council Tax Support from the Council using the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support Form.
How do I make a claim for Universal Credit?
You can find out whether you are eligible and how to claim for Universal Credit Online.
Universal Credit is claimed and maintained online.
If you don’t have a computer at home you can use the computers at the Job Centre or at your local library. If you need more help you can get face to face or telephone advice from staff at the Job Centre.
There is also a helpline which is available. You should contact the helpline if:
- You have any questions
- Your circumstances change and you are already receiving Universal Credit
Universal Credit Helpline: 0345 600 0723
If you find that you are having difficulty while waiting for payments to start, the following links may be able to help:
- Citizens Advice can provide free and impartial help and advice.
- The Council provides free digital support and advice about money and can help you to manage your budget.
- If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax, you may be entitled to assistance via Local Council Tax Support or Discretionary and Exceptional Hardship Fund Payments.
- If you find yourself struggling with debt, you can receive advice and help from a number of charities such as the Debt Support Trust, The National Debt Line and Step Change.
- The Money Advice Service provides free and impartial money advice.
- The Daily Jobseeker is an online resource set up by the Department of Work and Pensions to provide advice and help with getting into work.
The following food banks operate within the Brentwood borough: