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Universal Credit

Are you ready for Universal Credit?

Watch our short film to find out more about Universal Credit and how you can prepare.

Universal Credit (UC) 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

If you’re getting any of these benefits or tax credits, you do not need to do anything unless either:

  • your circumstances change; or
  • you get a letter called a ‘Migration Notice’ telling you that you must claim UC.

The Migration Notice will notify you of your entitlement to Transitional Protection. This is an extra 'transitional' amount which tops up your UC award so that you are not substantially worse off when you move onto UC. It is only added for people who have been ‘managed migrated’ and where they would be entitled to less from UC than from their current legacy benefits.

If you get a Migration Notice, you must move to Universal Credit within 3 months to keep getting financial support.

You'll stop getting these benefits and tax credits when you or your partner claims Universal Credit. If you or your partner gets Pension Credit, this will also stop if one of you claims Universal Credit.

This will not affect any other benefits you’re getting, such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Carer’s Allowance.

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

UC and your annual rent change?

If you are currently claiming UC, from Monday, 1 April 2024, you will receive a ‘to do’ notification on your UC online account called ‘Report any changes to your housing costs’. The date you receive this ‘to do’ will depend on your individual UC assessment period.

Once you receive this ‘to do’ you should follow the instructions to complete this, using the new rent information you have received from WDH.

Please do not update your rental information before receiving this ‘to do’ task, as this may result in you having to report your annual rent change more than once.

If you need any help or advice, please contact our Debt Team at cdt@wdh.co.uk

Who does UC affect?

UC is a payment to help with your living costs. You may be able to get it if you’re on a low income, out of work or you cannot work.

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.

Working age benefit claimants. 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 Debt Team on 01977 724464

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 WDH Hubs or ask to speak to a WDH Digital Angel on 0345 8 507 507. You can also contact Cash Wise on 01977 724651 or 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 Cash Wise 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, please 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 Debt Team on 01977 724464 or OneCALL 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 Debt Team on 01977 724664 or need further support contact Cash Wise 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.

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.