From 8 February 2017, if you claim certain welfare benefits and report changes in your circumstances, you may be advised to claim Universal Credit. Universal Credit is being rolled out across the country to replace Income Support, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and Housing Benefit.
Universal Credit is paid monthly, and the amount that you are paid includes money to pay your rent. This is a big change, as in the past, Housing Benefit was paid directly on to your rent account. With Universal Credit, it is the responsibility of the claimant to pay their own rent.
Claims for Universal Credit are made and managed online. You report changes in circumstance online, and the DWP staff will interact in this way as well.
So, for example, if you currently claim Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, and after 8 February you are found to be capable of work, you would be asked to claim Universal Credit. Other changes that may lead to you needing to make a claim for Universal Credit include:
- Moving to a new home which is in a different council area
- You live as a couple and you separate
- You are a lone parent and your partner moves in to your home
- You claim Income Support as a carer and stop being a carer.
- You are a lone parent working and claiming Working tax Credit and your hours drop below 16 hours per week.
Below are some key points about Universal Credit, but you can get more information by visiting www.newcastle.gov.uk/universalcredit or calling Byker Community Trust on 0800 5335 442 (option 3)
- To make a claim for Universal Credit, you will need to have an email address and a bank account.
- Universal Credit does not replace the help that you get towards your Council Tax and you will need to make sure that you make a separate claim for this.
- Universal Credit does not replace Contribution Based Jobseekers Allowance or Contribution based Employment and Support Allowance, which are usually paid where you have paid sufficient National Insurance Contributions.
- Most of the interaction you have with the DWP will be online. If the DWP need you to do anything or have any information for you, this will be shown in your online claim. If you do not carry out the actions that you are asked to do, the DWP may Sanction your benefit, which means that your payments may stop or reduce.
It is important that you seek advice as soon as possible if you have any queries or questions about Universal Credit, or if you think that you will need help to manage your claim.