Universal Credit Basics
Universal Credit is meant to be a simpler single monthly payment for people in or out of work.
The brainchild of Iain Duncan Smith and his Broken Britain policy it has been beset with problems from the start.
It was intoduced to take over from some of the benefits they now refer to as: legacy benefits. They are:
- Housing benefit.
- Child Tax Credit.
- Income support
- Working Tax Credit.
- Jobseeker’s Allowance.
- Employment and Support Allowance
Some Universal Credit facts
- If you’re in an area which offers a full service, you’ll be made to claim Universal Credit.
- If you’re not in a full service area, you will continue to claim existing benefits until you’re made to claim UC.
- If you get help with your rent, this will be included in your monthly payment – you’ll then pay your landlord directly. Yes yourself.
- If you live with someone as a couple and you are both entitled to claim UC, you will get one monthly joint payment paid into a single bank account.
- UC is paid monthly in arrears so it can take up to six weeks after you make your claim to get your first payment. This can cause problems with your landlord.
- There are no limits on how many hours a week you can work if you’re claiming UC. Instead, the amount you get will reduce by 64p for every £1 you earn. This can work against you despite the government saying otherwise.
- You have to make your claim online and will require daily internet access in most cases too.
- If you are on Employment and Support Allowance, you will be required to take a new Work Capability Assesment, regardless of your previous one. You have to get doctor fit notes again whilst you are being assessed.
How much will I get?
Universal Credit is made up of the standard allowance and then extra amounts apply depending on your circumstances such as;
- If you have children
- If you have a disability or health condition which prevents you from working
- If you need help paying your
Your basic allowance will depend on whether you are single or a couple, and whether you are under 25.
Single claimant aged under 25: £251.77 per month
Single claimant aged 25 or over: £317.82 per month
Joint claimants both aged under 25: £395.20 per month in total
Joint claimants either aged 25 or over: £498.89 per month in total.
Universal Credit additional elements
There are additional elements that can be added to the basic allowance. You may qualify for more than one of these:
Child and or Childcare costs
- Limited capability for work element (abolished for new claimants since April 2017)
- Limited capability for work-related activity element (LCWRA element)*
- Carer element.*
- Housing costs element
*You cannot get the LCWRA element and the Carer element together.
Universal Credit is given in a single payment monthly in arrears.
It will take at least five weeks for you to receive your first payment. Once you claim, there is a one month assessment period and then a payment should come 7 days later
You can request a Universal Credit Advance payment and personal budgeting support but, you will have to pay this back and it may cause more hardship.
(As most landlords require rent in advance you may have to find one month’s rent or take an advance to avoid arrears and future debt problems.)
Universal Credit will be paid into one bank account per household.
The DWP DO have the ability to pay more frequently or to split payment in exceptional circumstances.* Don’t let them tell you they don’t, this is wrong.
*(In Scotland you are entitled to fortnightly payments if you want them, in England & Wales there must evidence of hardship or budgeting problems.)
You will be responsible for paying your landlord directly unlike housing benefit.
Although they say they’ll only pay landlords directly in exceptional circumstances, if you say you cannot budget it they will pay directly if you ask them.
This is just a basic round up of the system. I will go into detail on commitments you must make to get the money, tomorrow.
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