Click here to download Universal Credit leaflet.
Universal Credit is a new benefit for working age people. It will bring together the main out of work benefits, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Benefit, Carer’s Allowance.
It is currently rolled out to the whole country, region by region. The system is intended to simplify the way benefits are paid and the vast majority of claims will be made online. These are proposed changes introduced by the Government and subject to further Government announcements, they may change.
At first it will only be paid to new claimants and people who have a change of circumstances.
One of the main changes is how Universal Credit will be paid. At the moment, Housing Benefit can be paid either to the tenant, or in most cases, directly to the landlord. This is going to change and payments will now be made directly to tenants.
The frequency of payments being made will also change as Universal Credit will be paid monthly in arrears. Although there may be some exceptions for vulnerable people, it is essential that all tenants have a way of paying their rent as soon as they receive their Universal Credit payment. We realise that this is a huge change and some people may struggle to prioritise essential payments such as rent. If this is the case, contact our Welfare Reform Officer who will be able to talk through all of your options.
WHAT CAN I DO?
It is important that you get more information and advice. This will allow you to budget for the changes and plan ahead to reduce any negative effects. If possible, start paying your rent in advance in order to prepare for when Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears.
Get a bank account
With the introduction of Universal Credit, all benefit payments will be made direct to you. It will be extremely important that you have a bank account as your housing benefit payments will be paid to you and not to Abertay Housing Association.
You are responsible for the payment of your rent. Should you not pay your rent and go into arrears, you may risk losing your home.
Having an account will help you manage your money, set up monthly direct debits and take the worry out of budgeting. If you don’t have a bank account speak to our Welfare Reform Officer who will provide you with further details.
As mentioned above, under the new system, the vast majority of benefit claims will be made online. If you need help getting online, contact our Welfare Reform Officer for more information.
If you are worried about how these changes will affect you, or you need further information, contact our Welfare Reform Officer as soon as possible – don’t bury your head in the sand.
Welfare Reform Officer
Tel: 01382 513826
Here are the links to other useful websites that provide information on Universal Credit.
- Universal Credit Personal Planner
- Money Advice Service video
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Dundee City Council Welfare Reform Information
- Dundee City Council Welfare Reform Videos
- Places Where You Can Apply Online
- E Learning Modules
- Universal Credit Claim Video
From the 1 April 2016 Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates apply to social housing rents. This will impact greatest upon people who are under 35 as, if they are single with no dependent children they will only be entitled to the shared accommodation rate which is currently around £250 per month. For further details click here.
From 1 May 2016 housing benefit claims will only be backdated a month, rather than 6 months as was done previously.
There is a limit to the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. This is called the benefit cap.
Your Housing benefit may be reduced to ensure that you don’t get more than :
- £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you’re in a couple, whether your children live with you or not
- £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you’re single and your children live with you
- £257.69 per week (£13,400 a year) if you’re single and you don’t have children, or your children don’t live with you
The new cap amount will apply from 7 November 2016.
You will not be affected if you or your partner work, and either of the following apply:
- you or your partner are eligible for Working Tax Credit
- you or your partner get Universal Credit, and your household income is more than £430 a month after tax and National Insurance
Dundee Jobcentre Plus has been contacting people who will be affected. If you are unsure please contact us to discuss.