In October 2013 the government started to roll out Universal Credit with small pilots held across the country. Gradually this new benefit will be rolled out nationwide.
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work, which merges together some of the benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now.
It replaces the following benefits:
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing benefit
- Income Support (income-based)
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-related)
- Employment and Support Allowance
Instead, you will get one single monthly payment, paid directly into your bank account.
Universal Credit is being introduced in stages. Whether you can claim depends on where you live and your personal circumstances. See the list of areas where you can claim Universal Credit. You may be able to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or other benefits if you don’t live in a qualifying area or you’re not eligible to claim Universal Credit.
How you’ll be paid
Universal Credit is paid differently from current benefits. It’ll be paid once a month, usually into your bank, building society or credit union account.
If you live with your partner and you both claim Universal Credit you’ll receive a single payment that covers you both.
There is seven day waiting period from when you submit your claim before Universal Credit will start. This means that the first seven days of your Universal Credit claim will not be paid and you will have to make this up yourself. You will also have to wait up to six weeks before you get your first payment.
Don’t delay, get ready for Universal Credit today
- Pay some extra money towards your rent so you won’t have rent arrears once you switch over to Universal Credit.
- If you are struggling financially during the waiting days for Universal Credit to be paid, contact us and other local agencies who can provide support with food bank vouchers, help with utility bills, hardship funds, details of local charities, and signposting for other useful services.
- Make sure you have a bank account so you can receive the payment and one you can use to set up direct debits. If you don’t have an account you should open a bank, building society, Post Office or credit union account. You can find out more about how to choose a bank account from the Money Advice Service.
- Direct debits are a quick and easy way to pay your rent. You set it up once and don’t have to remember when to pay. Download and complete a direct form from our website.
- Get used to budgeting for monthly payments if you don’t already. As well as the rent and other bills, you will need money for essentials, such as food, for the month.
- Make sure you will be able to claim online. There’s free internet access at libraries and your local job centre can also help you with your application.
- The DWP will not share information on your Universal Credit claim with us, so make sure you provide them with all the relevant information needed to process your claim and keep Catalyst updated on the progress of your claim.
- If you are on Universal Credit you will need to provide any rent change details to Universal Credit department in the DWP rather than the Housing Benefit department in your local authority.
- Unlike Housing Benefit, a Universal Credit claim will not include a claim for council tax. This means you’ll need to submit a separate application for council tax in addition to your Universal Credit claim.
How Catalyst can help
If you are affected by any of these changes and are worried about being able to pay your rent please contact us.
Our income team or our financial inclusion team at Catalyst Gateway can help manage your money so you don’t end up losing your home.
Visit the Universal Credit section on the government website or watch the Money Advice Service video which explains how Universal Credit works.