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Universal Credit

Are you ready for Universal Credit?

Universal Credit (UC) is a new benefit payment, which replaces six working age benefits with a single monthly payment similar to a monthly working wage. The six benefits being replaced are:

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

UC does not include assistance with your Council Tax. If you are claiming UC you can still contact Wakefield Council (or the local authority in your area) to apply for help with your Council Tax.

Who does UC affect?

The Full Service of UC is introduced in Wakefield from 28 November 2018, when the majority of new working age benefit claimants will be required to claim UC. Some changes in existing circumstances may also prompt a new UC claim.

People of pension age will not currently be affected. If you are unsure of when you will reach Pension Credit age, the GOV.UK website provides a useful state pension calculator. You may still be affected however if you are not currently receiving Pension Credit and your partner is under Pension Credit age.

UC is paid directly to one member of the household into a bank, building society or credit union account.

Existing working age benefit claimants will begin to be moved over to UC from July 2019 onwards. In order to receive UC, you will need to agree a Claimant Commitment between yourself and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This outlines what the DWP will expect of you in terms of work search. If the DWP does not believe that you are keeping to your Claimant Commitment, you may be sanctioned, meaning that you will lose some or all of your UC payments for a set period of time.

Preparing for Universal Credit

When you need to make a Universal Credit claim you will be asked to input personal details including your National Insurance Number. As part of this process you may also need to inform the DWP who your landlord is and obtain information about your tenancy from WDH. For further information, call our OneCALL team on 0345 8 507 507.

UC is a 'Digital by Design' service. This means that you need to be able to use a computer and the internet to claim UC, use an online journal to manage your UC claim and search for work online. As part of this process, you will also be expected to verify your identity online.

If you struggle to access digital services, your claim may be cancelled during the initial claim period or you may not be able to meet the requirements of your claimant commitment, which could result in your UC payments being sanctioned. If you feel you will have any difficulties with this you can visit us at one of our service access points, the WDH Hub or ask to speak to a WDH Digital Angel on 0345 8 507 507. You can also contact Cash Wise on 01977 724651or visit the Cash Wise website. The DWP will also provide support to help you get online and provide access to digital services.

As part of your claim, your identity will be verified online and then in person. You will be issued with a Personal Security Number, or PSN. It is important that you keep this safe, as you may be asked for it later. If you lose your PSN, you may need to have your identity verified again, which can be time consuming and delay your UC payments.

Adjusting to UC

UC is very different from other benefits you may have claimed previously. If you feel that you will struggle financially during the initial waiting period, you can apply for an advance on your first UC payment, via your online journal or by speaking to your work coach. You can receive a full UC payment in advance and pay this back monthly from your ongoing UC payments over a maximum period of 12 months.

To receive UC payments you need a bank, building society or credit union account. For more information about setting up accounts visit the Cash Wise website. The Cash Wise Website has lots of useful information about different financial products, benefits, maximising your income and cooking on a budget to help your money go further.

Adjusting to managing your money monthly, in arrears can be a challenge. If you think you will need help adjusting to Universal Credit or may struggle financially during your claim, call our Cash Wise team on 01977 724651 or visit the Cash Wise website.

Your responsibilities

If you are entitled to the housing costs element of UC, this will be included in your single UC monthly payment. This is the main difference for tenants in claiming UC instead of Housing Benefit. If you are the named WDH tenant, it is your responsibility to ensure that rent is paid to WDH in full.

Rent is a priority debt and if your rent is not paid your tenancy may be at risk. If you are having trouble paying your rent you should speak to your WDH Debt Officer.

Joint tenancies

If you have previously signed a joint WDH tenancy agreement but the other tenant now no longer lives with you, under UC you may only receive up to half of your housing costs element. For advice on your tenancy call our OneCALL team on 0345 8 507 507.

Keeping in touch

If you need to claim UC it is important that you inform us as soon as you can. It is also important to inform the DWP and stay in contact with WDH when you need help or if anything changes. It is important that you report any change in your circumstances to the DWP as soon as you can, as your UC entitlement may be affected. To talk to us about your UC claim, contact our Cash Wise Team on 01977 724651 or visit the Cash Wise website. If you keep us informed we will be more able to support you through any changes you have.

If you are already claiming UC

If you are already claiming UC, you will be required to claim again in the ‘Full’ service to transfer over. Once the UC Full Service is available in Wakefield, the DWP will write to you to outline the steps you will need to take. If you ignore this letter, or any further contact from the DWP, your UC payments may cease. If you are already claiming UC and need help and assistance moving to the Full Service, you can contact the DWP for advice. Alternatively you can speak to the Cash Wise team on 01977 724651 or visit the Cash Wise website.

Further information

Additional information to help you prepare for UC can be found on the GOV.UK website or by contacting Universal Credit directly on 0800 328 9344..