What is Universal Credit?
Full Service Universal Credit in Islington
Universal Credit is a new government benefit for working-age people on a low income or who are out of work. You can contact Citizens Advice for free impartial help on 0800 144 8 444. From 20 June 2018, most new benefit claimants in Islington, and some people who are on benefits, but whose circumstances change, will move to Universal Credit.
Others who are already receiving benefits will at some point be moved over to Universal Credit (probably by 2023) but the government has not yet told us when this change will start.
Universal Credit is run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Partners are here to help residents understand and prepare for the changes. Contact us to find out how we can help.
Universal Credit (UC) replaces six benefits:
- Job Seekers’ Allowance
- Income Support
- Employment & Support Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit.
Universal Credit is paid directly to the person claiming benefits, which means residents will become responsible for paying their full rent. Housing Benefit is no longer paid directly to a Council tenant's rent account, but is paid to the claimant as the housing element of Universal Credit - you must have a Bank Account to be able to receive this benefit.
What’s different about Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is paid differently to previous benefits and tax credits. It is a single monthly payment into a credit union, bank or building society account, and includes any money for your rent. You will need to pay rent to your landlord directly, and you will also need to pay any bills.
There is at least a five-week delay between applying for Universal Credit and getting your first payment, so start thinking about what you need to do now! The delay will be longer if your claim is incomplete.
You will need to apply separately for council tax support.
You can indicate that you want to claim council tax support when you make your claim for Universal Credit. Or, you can contact the Council directly to make a claim.
How will Universal Credit work?
You will need to verify your ID online and get a bank account
- You will need some proof of identity to do this, like a credit or debit card, driving licence or passport. You can sign up now to the government’s Verify service before you claim, which would save you time
- You will need a credit union, bank or building society account. Find out about fee-free basic bank accounts
- Universal Credit will be paid monthly into this bank account. Money for your rent (what would have been your housing benefit) will be paid straight to you, it will not go to your landlord. You will be responsible for paying your rent, in full, directly to your landlord.
You will need to get online
- Most people will be expected to manage their Universal Credit claim online, so you will need internet access
- You will need to keep the DWP updated about any changes in your circumstances – you are responsible for this and it can affect your payments
- You will also need an email address and to verify your identity online
- You can use computers at our libraries, and there are also facilities to make your claim at your local job centre and at 222 Upper St
- If you need help using a computer you can take an Adult and Community Learning course
- The Islington Computer Skills Centre offers free training for Islington residents aged 19 and above who are unemployed or low-waged and receiving benefits
You will need to budget
- You will need to budget so you can pay your rent and council tax and your other living costs every month
- There is at least a five-week delay between applying for Universal Credit and getting your first payment. The delay will be longer if your claim is incomplete. Talk to us about what how we can help you with budgeting and managing during the wait for payment.
- You can apply for an advance payment, which is repayable over 12 months
- Some claimants’ money will go up when they move to Universal Credit, and for some it will go down
- If you need help with budgeting we can refer you to our Successful Tenancies Advisor. Please contact us and we can arrange this.
Our friends at the Hyde Foundation have put together a very helpful site called Betteroff. Partners residents can use the site to help prepare for and manage their Universal Credit account.