Universal Credit News - October 2019
Important News For Universal Credit Claimants
Parents And Guardians To Be Given Extra Time To Claim Back Childcare Costs With UC
An extra month to claim back childcare costs could mean parents avoid missing out on up to £1,100 per month.
Further Help - The Flexible Support Fund
- The Flexible Support Fund can be used to pay 100% of the upfront childcare costs (up to the set limits) that a person incurs between starting work and receiving their first wage.
Work Coaches can assist with this.This is paid directly to the childcare providers and is not repayable. It can include help with a deposit or retainer, advance fees and taster sessions.
Once a claimant has received their first wage, Work Coaches can offer Budgeting Advances (where the claimant is eligible) to help pay for further upfront childcare costs. This could help during school holidays, when there is a change of childcare provider, or additional childcare in order to increase work hours. Budgeting Advances are repayable, however once the childcare is paid for, a Childcare Costs Element can be included in the UC award.
Some People Will Be Better Off Under This UC Change...
Some people will be better off as changes to Universal Credit will see the recovery rate lowered from the current 40% to 30% maximum.
Those affected by a combination of repayments, for example rent arrears, advances and/or direct payments, will see the amount they receive change. The DWP could take deductions of up to 40 percent of the monthly standard allowance of Universal Credit.
From October, this will be reduced to 30 percent. This means those paying the maximum should receive more money each month from October.
The DWP have confirmed the change will affect both existing and new claimants of Universal Credit.
What Is Universal Credit (UC)?
Universal Credit is for people of working age. It is designed to top up your income to a minimum level and help you with your housing costs (rent and some service charges). Universal Credit is for people on a low to moderate income. It does not matter whether you are working or not, or the reason why you are not working.
From 1 February 2019 families with more than two children can claim Universal Credit. Prior to this date claims for legacy benefits had to be made. The regulations ensure the child element of Universal Credit will be payable in respect of all children born before April 1 2017.
Remember that despite all children born before April 1 2017 being eligible for the child element, the benefit cap still applies. The monthly cap is currently £1,916.67 if you live in a London Borough and £1,666.67 if you live outside London.
Universal Credit is Replacing:
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit.
When is Universal Credit Being Introduced?
Universal Credit is already here and is now available in all areas of Great Britain - but only for certain people.
- Your switch to Universal Credit will depend on your circumstances, you may stay on your exisiting benefits.
- Once your area has the digital service, a change in your circumstances means you may need to make a new claim for Universal Credit
- If you are of working age and are still getting any of the benefits which are being replaced by Universal Credit, at some point you will be asked to make a claim for Universal Credit instead. The DWP call this step migration.
What's The Difference?
Universal Credit is paid in one lump sum and on a monthly basis and includes help to pay your rent. This help isn’t paid separately, like Housing Benefit and usually all the Universal Credit is paid straight to you, so you have to pay your rent out of this money.
Most people will get the same amount of money as they would have under the benefits listed above. It just looks like more because all the benefits are being paid together, including help with your housing costs (rent, mortgage, interest and some service charges).
If you are a couple you both have to complete the claim process. If you would like more information please either email the Welfare Team or call us on 0300 304 5000.
WARNING: Universal Credit DOES NOT include help with your Council Tax.
WARNING: Universal Credit DOES NOT include help with your Council Tax.
You must claim Council Tax Support separately from your local council.
You can find your local council if you are not sure who they are.
How Can I Prepare for Universal Credit?
To prepare for Universal Credit think about:
- How you would manage to make a claim online, or how you could access online services (such as through a friend, relative or even a public library) if you don’t have your own internet access
- Where you can go to build up your computer skills if you’ve never been online before
- How you will manage with monthly payments
- How you will manage until you have received your first monthly payment (it will probably be a longer gap between payments than you have been used to – and the first payment 4 weeks after your claim)
- How you will manage when you have to pay your rent to your landlord yourself
- Asking for an advance of Universal Credit
- Opening a bank or credit union account. “Basic” bank accounts don’t allow you to overdraw but still charge for unmet direct debits (if there’s not enough money in the account when they come out).
If you would like to talk through some of these issues, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Email the Welfare Team or call us on 0300 304 5000.
How Do I Claim Universal Credit?
You will need to make an application to apply for Universal Credit online. If you need help, you can call the helpline on 0800 328 9344. Calls are free from most mobiles and landlines.
If you don’t have access to the internet at home, contact us on 0300 304 5000 to find out where you can go online. Please note in some places where you can use a computer, there might not be anyone available to help you with the claim. In this case, the Citizens Advice website can help.
Make sure you have the following information with you when you claim:
- Your (and any partner’s) National Insurance number
- Details of anyone who lives with you - their name, date of birth, age and income
- Your full address, including postcode
- Account details of where you would like payments to be made - account number and sort code
- Your email address(es)
- The total amount of any savings you have
- Your landline / mobile phone number
- If you / your partner are working, details of your wage(s)
- Your landlord's name and address
- Details of any other income, including benefits
- Your eligible rent - you can ask us for a breakdown
- Proof of ID.
IMPORTANT: The online claim form asks "Do you pay rent?" This means "Are you liable to pay rent?" - the answer will always be YES if you / your partner have a tenancy, even if you have not actually been paying us any rent because you’ve been getting Housing Benefit.
The form also asks you how much rent you pay. This is the full "eligible rent" – not the shortfall you may been paying if you get Housing Benefit. Ask us if you’re not sure what this is - 0300 304 5000.
WARNING: If you answer these questions incorrectly, then you might not get all (or any) of the help with your rent included in your Universal Credit award.
Many of the online claim questions have a box next to them saying "What does this mean?" It is a good idea to click on these even if you think you know what the question means, just to be certain.
If you need any help, ring the helpline number 0800 328 9344 or ask us for assistance. You can call us on 0300 304 5000 or email the Welfare Team.