Universal Credit is a benefit for people of working age that replaces six existing benefits:
· Housing Benefit
· Income Support
· Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance
· Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
· Child Tax Credit
· Working Tax Credit
Instead of receiving different benefits at different times of the month, you will get a single monthly payment directly into your bank account, including money towards helping you pay your rent. Rent is no longer paid directly to us.
This means you are responsible for making rent payments yourself and ensuring that these are paid in full and on time. The best way to manage this and ensure peace of mind is to set up a regular payment method such as a direct debit.
Falling behind with your rent could put your home at risk, so it’s important to prioritise this payment.
How do I claim Universal Credit?
Universal Credit claims are made and managed online. You need the following things to get set up:
· Access to the internet
· Email address
· Bank account
· At least two forms of identification
· Proof of your tenancy and current rent
It is important you have a reliable way of getting online and feel comfortable using a computer.
If you need help with this, we offer a range of support including digital skills training and helping you to get online or access the internet in your local area.
Depending on your circumstances, you may also need to provide:
· Two months’ worth of pay slips
· Proof of childcare costs
· ‘Fit note’ from GP stating you are unable to work
· Proof of your immigration/residency status
What should I do if my circumstances change after I’ve made a claim?
You need to report any changes in your circumstances and provide relevant information via an online claim journal. This includes your job searching activities if you are looking for work.
When will I be paid?
If your claim is successful, you will normally get your first Universal Credit payment 5-6 weeks after submitting your claim. In some cases this takes longer, especially if you have been asked to provide additional information.
After your first payment, Universal Credit is paid at monthly intervals, so you will always be paid on roughly the same date each month.
Universal Credit payments can only be made into a UK bank account, so if you don’t already have one of these, you should think about opening one now.
It can be quite difficult to manage your bills and finances while you’re waiting for your first payment of Universal Credit, so having some savings to tide you over really helps.
If you don’t have any savings, it’s a good idea to start putting a little aside each week if you can, even if you are not expecting to move onto Universal Credit any time soon.
If this isn’t possible, you have the option to take an advanced payment loan while you wait for your first Universal payment. This can be up to 100% of your expected monthly award, but your future payments will be reduced until you have paid this back. Make sure you budget for this when deciding how much to ask for.
What are the steps involved in making my claim?
Step 1 – The online claim
This usually takes people about 45 minutes to complete. It’s a good idea to have all the information you need ready before starting the claim, but don’t worry; you can save your claim and come back to it later if you need to.
Step 2 – Confirming your identity
When you’ve completed the online claim form you will be asked to confirm your identity. If you have a UK passport or driving license and a bank card then this can usually be done there and then online. If you can’t confirm your identity online then you will need to do this at your initial appointment instead.
Step 3 – Booking your initial appointment
Next you’ll be given the contact details for your local Jobcentre and be asked to arrange an appointment. This needs to be within seven days of your phone call, so check your diary before calling.
Step 4 – Attend your initial appointment
You’ll meet with someone at the Jobcentre who will go through your application with you, perform an identity check if necessary, and give you a Personal Security Number. Keep this safe as you will need it next time you log into your online claim journal.
They will also discuss what happens next, which will depend on your circumstances, and they should offer you the opportunity to take an advance payment. Don’t worry, you don’t need to decide there and then – you can request an advance any time between the initial appointment and first payment.
Where can I get help with the claims process?
If you’re unsure about or having difficulty with any part of the claims process, the Community Investment team are here to offer advice and support. You can speak to one of the team today by calling: 01403 224501 or email email@example.com