Universal Credit - What is Universal Credit Benefit?

Updated 14th April 2017

Universal Credit is a newer benefit that is intended to make the general benefits system simpler. It will replace six other benefits and that you may be receiving – or some of them, so it will be a one-stop-shop for most of the benefits which are paid today. Whilst it is named the Universal Credit, it is not yet universally available to all in the UK. The UC Benefit is being introduced area by area – ironing out the basic introduction problems as it proceeds.

There is no need for you to claim Universal Credit if you are already getting any of the affected benefits known as Legacy Benefits. You will automatically be enrolled into the system if it is operating in the area where you live. But you will need to apply if you are a new benefits claimant in an area covered by the scheme.

It is intended to be a fairer benefit, and less complicated than claiming several benefits that you may be claiming at the moment. In theory it should save the government money in administration costs over time, and therefore being less of a tax burden for those paying income or other tax.

Universal Credit is essentially for those on lower income – ether from working or non-employment.

What are the aims of Universal Credit?

One of the aims of Universal Credit is to help those who get out of the benefits trap, when working and getting paid less than they would be able to claim if on benefits.

It will also be a bit of a bugbear, for those who maybe want to stay on full benefits without working or being unable to work for various health reasons.

If you are genuinely unable to work for whatever reason, you will still be able to claim most benefits that you are entitled to.

man looking worriedHow much is Universal Credit?

The amount of Universal Credit that is paid depends upon several aspects, and is not the same flat rate for all persons. Universal Credit Payments are also affected by the Benefits Cap. It is made up of several elements and can include help for housing costs, for aspects of childcare and benefits for children, if you have a poor health or disabling condition, or if you actually care for someone with a disability. It will replace the several benefits which are at present received for the above circumstances.

Your rent will need to be paid directly to your landlord when you get Universal Benefits. The benefits system will not pay to your landlord.

If you are on low income – but working – you can work as many hours as you want or need to when on UC, but as you start to earn more, you will receive less Universal Credit payment.

Universal Benefit is not paid in the same way as other benefits.  It is paid monthly – one time per month – into a bank account, building society account or into a Credit Union Account.

If you are married or live with your partner and you both claim Universal Benefit, there will be one payment made to cover you both. It will not come as two separate payments to your individual accounts.

It will take about six weeks to get payment after you finish claiming for Universal Credit, and you will get a letter telling when you will be paid, how much you will be paid and also which account it will be paid into.

There will be a ‘waiting period’ of seven days after the time you submit your claim, before your Universal Credit will start. You then have a further 6 weeks to wait before payment.

What Benefits does Universal Credit Replace?

Any of the following you are receiving, will be replaced by Universal Credit once it is operating in your area. It is NOT in addition to any of these benefits, it REPLACES them.

Jobseeker’s Allowance; Housing Benefit; Working Tax Credit; Child Tax Credit; Employment and Support Allowance; Income Support.

If you are already receiving any of the benefits listed, you will be taken off them when you are enrolled into the system. That does not mean you will receive less! It simply means you will be getting one benefit payment to cover all.

How to Claim Universal Benefit

It is important to realize that you have to agree to a “Claimant Commitment” to get Universal Credit.

This agreement means that you will agree to complete certain tasks to get and remain eligible for Universal Credit. The agreement will take into account matters such as your health, and what responsibilities you have at you home, and ALSO how much help you need to either get work – or increase your income!

Universal Credit can be applied for on line.

If you have any questions, you can contact the Helpline Below. You can also contact the Universal Credit Helpline if you are getting Universal Credit but there is a change in your circumstances. For instance, if you start to earn more – or less, or there is a change in your personal circumstances of any type that may alter your benefit. It is important to do this, and not delay! If you do not report changes of circumstances that affect benefits you could end up being penalised.

Universal Credit Number and Helpline.

Telephone: 0345 600 0723 for all queries in England

Welsh language (make a claim): 0800 012 1888

Welsh language (report changes): 0345 600 3018

Textphone: 0345 600 0743

You will need to find out about call charges from your phone. They ARE NOT FREE! 034 numbers will be charged at up to 12p from your land line, or currently between 3p – 45p with your mobile supplier. (As at date of this article)

March 9th 2017
***Child Tax Credit - From April this year the ‘family element’ of £545 per year will be abolished.***

March 8th 2017
**MPs are calling for a halt to the accelerating roll-out of Universal Credit as the ongoing problems are causing undue and unnecessary hardship**

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