Helping you benefit – Braintree Jobcentre Plus’ Top Tips to claiming Universal Credit

Helping you benefit – Braintree Jobcentre Plus’ Top Tips to claiming Universal Credit
12th March 2018 James Calnan

Whether you’re currently on other benefits or making your first claim, you may find yourself asked to claim Universal Credit. Here Lisa Shibley, Work Services Manager at Braintree Jobcentre Plus, sets out the following Top Tips to help you.

“Universal Credit, which is gradually replacing six income based benefits including Housing Benefit and income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, includes a monthly payment to help cover your living costs, including your rent. In return for financial support, you’ll be expected to prepare or look for work and report any changes to your situation.

“If you communicate with us, there’s so much support out there that we can signpost and tap into. Training schemes, work programmes, mental health support – there’s just so much out there that’s available to you.”

  • To claim Universal Credit, you will need an email address, bank account and some basic computer skills and knowledge. Greenfields residents can take our free Basic Computer Skills course. Sign up by filling in the form at greenfieldsch.org.uk/register-free-computer-course-online-form or by calling 01376 535400 and asking for Val Thompstone. Your Jobcentre can provide help finding or using a computer to make a claim.
  • You will need an up-to-date ID – preferably photographic. If you have a driving licence or passport, check it’s still valid. Photo ID will make it easier to confirm that you are who you say you are and speed up the application process.
  • It’s crucial to remember that claims are made in 3 stages, all of which must be completed before you can receive your first payment. Simply beginning the process does not mean your claim is submitted.

If you cannot verify online, please click the can’t verify button, which will direct you to a freephone telephone number. Call that number and book an appointment at your local Job Centre so they can verify who you are. At this point, your claim has gone live, but you must attend your appointment within 30 days or you will not receive a payment.

  • When your claim has gone live, you will not receive your first payment for around four weeks. If you cannot make ends meet without support, you can apply for an advance by contacting your Jobcentre. This is a loan, which will have to be paid back over the next 12 months. The Jobcentre can also provide access to free Personal Budgeting Support which can help with managing your financial incomings and outgoings.
  • Once your claim has been approved, remember to log in daily to your online journal. Here, you can manage your claim and respond to messages from your work coach and case manager.
  • Although there is the Freephone telephone number 0800 328 5644 to speak to DWP, these calls are answered across the Department for Work and Pensions network. If you put a note in your journal, these will go through to your personal Work Coach (where you have one) and/or Case Manager and they will be able to respond quickly, as they know your circumstances. This may include asking them to phone you if you prefer to speak to someone.
  • If you would like us to speak to any person or organisation that support you, please put a note in your journal. Otherwise, we won’t be able to share your personal information with them. An example may be: “I allow DWP to talk about my Housing Costs with Val at Greenfields Community Housing”.
  • If you find work, you stay on Universal Credit. Payments remain unchanged until you receive your first pay packet. Unlike other benefits, the system is set up to support your return to work.
  • If you began receiving Universal Credit Live before 25 October, 2017, expect to receive a letter this spring advising you that you are being transferred to the Universal Credit Full Service, where the jobcentre will support you through this change.

For detailed information, including how to claim, please visit www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk. Further information is also available on Greenfields’ website, at www.greenfieldsch.org.uk/support-for-you/benefits-advice-service/universal-credit/