Prepare for Universal Credit

Universal Credit is being rolled out to new claims from single people in North Lincolnshire (who would otherwise have been eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance).

Here's a video introduction:

If you'd like to know more, read on.

What is it?

Universal Credit is a new type of financial support for people aged 18-64.

It's a simpler, single monthly payment which merges the following benefits and tax credits:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income support
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

Note the last one: Housing Benefit. We've highlighted this one because if you're a North Lincolnshire Homes tenant and you claim Housing Benefit, this is the one that goes towards, or fully pays your rent.

What makes it different?

The way it's managed

Universal credit is managed online.

You will claim and manage your payments through an online account on the government's website.

If you are not online or you don't feel confident with using technology we are running free digital taster sessions across the county. You can also read some handy computer tips for beginners.

The way it's paid

Universal Credit is paid directly to you into a bank account on a monthly basis. 

If you haven’t got a bank or building society account, now would be a great time to set one up. Alternatively, you could join the North Lincolnshire Credit Union. They have a shop on the High Street in Scunthorpe, or you can call them on 01724 868888.

Also, if you and your partner are eligible, you'll get one monthly payment for your household rather than having separate payments.

 

Why does it matter?

If you get money to help pay your rent, this will be included in the monthly Universal Credit payment which comes straight to you.

It is now your responsibility to pay us your rent directly. We will be notified by the Department for Work & Pensions when you have been paid your Universal Credit but you then need to pay us your rent from it.

We recommend that you:

  • pay your rent soon after you've recevied your Universal Credit payment (that way, you'll not be tempted to dip into the money for spending on other things)
  • set up a Direct Debit or standing order with your bank (if you have one and you can do so) so that your rent goes straight out
  • think about setting up a separate bank account to keep your bills and your spending money apart.

 

Does it affect my work?

There are no limits on how many hours a week you can work if you’re claiming Universal Credit, but the amount you’ll get will gradually reduce as you earn more, so you won’t lose all your benefits at once.

Think you can only work a certain number of hours to still claim benefits? You can actually work more than 16 hours a week and still receive Universal Credit.

How can I prepare?

Make sure you’re prepared for Universal Credit by considering the following:

  1. You’ll need a bank account (or similar)

    If you already have one, you can check online to see if your account is OK for Universal Credit payments. Don’t have an account? here's a handy guide to Basic Bank accounts

  2. Decide whether you’ll need a joint account

    You might need one if you live with a partner and you’re both eligible for Universal Credit. You can find out more on the Money Advice Service website.

  3. Check whether you can set up automated bill payment

    If you get help with your rent, this will be included in your monthly Universal Credit payment. Remember, it’s your responsibility to pay us directly now. Get in touch with our customer service team to find out more.

  4. Draw up a monthly budget

    You may need to make changes to the way you budget, since Universal Credit is paid monthly. There are resources available if you need to improve your budgeting skills, get an estimate of how much Universal Credit you’ll be entitled to and to access a budget planner. We can also help you with budgeting if you contact us.

  5. Make sure you have access to the internet

    Remember, you’ll be expected to claim Universal Credit and manage your account online. Check out our digital taster sessions for help getting online. Don’t have a computer? There are lots of places you can get online for free, like libraries or even at our Customer Centre in Cole Street, Scunthorpe.

Note: The format of this guide is based around an action plan on the Money Advice Service website.

Managing your money

Money Advice sessions

We're holding some money advice sessions which you may find useful. These will take place across the county with a member of our specialist team. Call us on 01724 279900 to register your interest.

  • Barton Local Link Tuesdays 9.00am – 12 midday
  • Winterton Local Link Tuesdays 2.00pm – 5.00pm
  • Ashby Local Link Wednesdays 9.00am – 12 midday

A Financial Inclusion session will be held each week at:

  • Westcliff Drop-in Centre Thursdays 1.00pm – 4.00pm

Your choice

There are many choices open to you when it comes to choosing a bank account. Check out our handy guide to basic bank accounts to pick the best one for you. Here's some additional information on Credit Unions and how the North Lincolnshire Credit Union can help you.

How to claim it

You will make your claim online via the gov.uk website. Here you can get a list of the information you need to make your claim, start your claim and download a document which explains the claims process in more detail. 

Remember though, Universal Credit is being introduced gradually in stages.

In North Lincolnshire, we know that from 29th June 2015, if you are a new benefits claimant and a single person, you will be applying for Universal Credit rather than the existing benefits.

Need help with your claim? You can contact us so one of our friendly advisors can help you.

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