Universal Credit is a payment to help with living costs for working age residents who are on a low income or out of work. It is a single payment to help simplify benefits and will replace the following benefits:
- Income-based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
- Income-based Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credits
- Working Tax Credits
Who can claim Universal Credit
If you currently receive any of the above benefits you will not get Universal Credit at the same time. Your current benefit payments will continue until you are moved over to Universal Credit. You don’t need to claim Universal Credit until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) gets in touch with you.
You will need to make a Universal Credit claim if you are starting a new claim or have a change in circumstances to one of your current benefits.
If you think this applies to you go to www.universalcreditinfo.net and input your postcode, to check when you will be able to claim. All areas in Hart will be able to apply for Universal Credit from 24 October 2018.
What is different about Universal Credit
Universal Credit will be a single payment each month on the same day, rather than weekly or fortnightly. Your rent will usually be paid directly to you as part of this instead of you getting a separate housing benefit payment sent to your landlord.
Your single payment will be paid directly into your bank, building society, Post Office or credit union account. It is important that you budget for such changes and ensure that your rent is kept up to date, as well as priority payments such as your Council Tax and utilities. You will need to manage your account online including updating information online if you work. Your payment will be adjusted if necessary.
It usually takes 5 weeks from when your old benefits stop and you get your first Universal Credit payment. You can ask for an advance payment when you visit the Job Centre for the first time if you don’t think you’ll have enough money to live on while you wait for your first payment.
How to apply for Universal Credit
If you are eligible to receive Universal Credit, you will need to apply online using the steps below.
- Set up an online account at www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit. You will need an email address to apply. You can do this from your smartphone, desktop computer or iPad. You will need your National Insurance number, housing information such as amount of your rent, income and savings, childcare situation and if you are in receipt of any other benefits.
- Use your account to start a claim (please note that you will be asked to verify your identity online). If you experience difficulties with this you can go back to your Universal Credit account and click on “I can’t do this online” so that you can skip this step and confirm your identity at the Job Centre instead.
- Arrange an interview at your local Job Centre within 7 days of starting your claim. To book the appointment call 0800 328 5644
Support with Universal Credit
Citizens Advice Hart can offer free and confidential advice to assist you to register an online account, complete an application, manage your money, as well as assist with the management of any ongoing claims. This is called Universal Support service.
The service operates across phone, webchat and email and is available at outreach locations in Odiham, Hook and Hartley Wintney. To contact Citizens Advice Hart call Adviceline on 03444 111 306, email email@example.com or visit www.citizensadvicehart.org.uk/contact
You can also get advice by calling the Universal Credit Service Helpline on 0800 328 5644.
If you would like to speak to a Housing Benefits officer from Hart District Council please call 01252 622122 and select option 1.