Universal Credit is a new benefit that was introduced to simplify the system and replace a number of other benefits. People involved with it might say it hadn’t worked with the simplification yet! But if you think you may be entitled to it, then telephone numbers can be found here to speak to the right people. If you are unsure, let’s look at what Universal Credit is and who is entitled to it.
Basics of the benefit
Universal Credit is a simple monthly payment that is aimed at people in or out of work and replaced a number of different benefits that were paid at different times including:
- Housing benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Income support
- Working Tax Credit
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
There have been some recent changes in the Autumn Budget. The system that included removing the seven-day waiting period for new claims from February this year. And anyone receiving Housing Benefit will continue to do so for another two weeks when applying for it starting in April 2018.
Universal Credit key facts
At the moment, the majority of new claims come from single, newly-unemployed people although numbers of couples and families are increasing. If you are in an area offering full service and apply for any existing benefits, you will instead apply for Universal Credit. If both you and your partner are entitled to make a claim, you will receive a single monthly joint payment paid into one bank account.
UC is paid in arrears, so it can take up to six weeks for you to receive your first payment. There are no limits to the number of hours you can week when receiving it rather than payment will alter as your income increases so you don’t lose out on overall income.
You have to make the claim online, but you can phone the different departments to get help if you are having trouble or need more information.
When is the payment made?
You never receive a payment for UC for the first seven days as these are known as waiting days. Claim as soon as you are entitled to as it can take up to six weeks for that first payment. The seventh day after you make the claim is the date that you will receive your monthly payment each month and is known as your assessment date.
So, if you lost your job on 15th July and applied immediately, your assessment date would be 22nd July. Each 22nd of the month you would receive your payment and your first payment would go into your bank on August 22nd. Payments can take up to seven days to clear so you should receive the money no later than August 29th. If this happened to be a bank holiday, you would receive the payment on the Friday before.
How much is the payment?
The payment for UC is made up from a standard allowance plus extra element for:
- Housing costs
- If you are a carer
- Cost of childcare
- Disabled children
- An ill or disabled adult
The most you can receive is one standard allowance per household plus any elements that cover your family circumstances. The maximum award is available if your household has no other earnings or savings and capital of less than £6000. You can visit the government website to see exactly how much you will receive based on your individual circumstances.
UC and other benefits
There are some forms of income that aren’t deducted from the amount of UC that you receive. Examples of these include statutory sick pay, pension payments, maternity or paternity pay, adoption pay, and a few benefits not rolled into Universal credit at this point.
Usually, £1 is deducted from your Universal Credit claim for every £1 you earn. Unearned income isn’t take off this amount. It currently includes child benefit, maintenance payments, disability living allowance, personal independence payments and any income from boarders or lodgers.
Savings and capital from things like shares or investments can impact the payment and how much you will receive so you need to declare these upfront so the DWP can take these into account. If you don’t tell them, you could end up owing money for overpayment at a later date.
There are some situations where there can be an advanced payment on UC claims where you have little or no money available. You do have to repay this advance payment at a later date so only use it if you absolutely have to.
From January 2018, this amount can be up to a full month’s payment in advance. Yyou can repay it across the following 12 payment . With each payment reduced accordingly. You can speak to the helpline to arrange this if you need it. They will need to know about your circumstances and why they should grant it.