Welfare reforms mean more residents will claim Universal Credit in the years to come. This page explains what it is, how you can prepare for it and how we can help.
What is Universal Credit?
From 25 October 2017, many residents receiving a range of benefits will instead claim Universal Credit. This will affect claimants of working age living in Braintree district who need to make or change their claim for:
- Income Support
- Income Based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Working Tax Credits
- Child Tax Credits
- Housing Benefit
Universal Credit is currently paid once a month, which includes housing costs to pay your rent. This money isn’t paid directly to us as your landlord. Unlike Housing Benefit, it is usually paid into your bank, building society or credit union account, so you must pay your rent out of this money.
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 Job Centre will support you through this change.
If you’re making a claim for Universal Credit or if you’re being transferred from a live to full service, please contact us.
Universal Credit applications are made online. Before any application is successful, you must ensure you:
- Verify who you are by following the guidance at www.gov.uk/verify
- Have an email address
- Have set up a bank or building society account where Universal Credit payments can be made
Claims are made online at www.gov.uk and it can be up to 5 weeks before any money is received, so you may temporarily go into arrears with your rent payment.
From January 2018, the advance loans claimants can apply for while waiting for the first payment will be increased, and the repayment period extended from six to 12 months.
From February 2018, the wait for the first payment should be reduced by a week, and from April 2018, new Universal Credit claimants who receive housing support will receive an extra two weeks of housing benefit payments.
It is likely you will get the same amount of money as you would have under the benefits listed above. However, it will look like more because the benefits, including help with your housing costs, are paid in a lump sum once a month.
We understand that circumstances can change and this may affect your financial situation. We aim to do all we can to help you through this. Please email our Income Team or call 01376 535400.
Greenfields offers support and advice for anyone wanting help to get online, plus free-to-use computers at our offices in Charter Way, Braintree (near Freeport). For more information, click on this link or email Digital Inclusion Co-ordinator Val Thompstone.
Independent debt advice is available through the Citizens Advice Bureau on 0344 499 4719 and the National Debt Line on 0808 808 4000.
How you will be affected by the changes will depend on your individual circumstances. For more information on Universal Credit, see our comprehensive guide in the Supporting Documents panel to the right.
The Department for Work & Pensions has produced a step-by-step guide to the entire Universal Credit process, which you can watch below.
Call the Universal Credit service centre to report changes:
Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Get in touch with the Greenfields team on the information below:
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