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Universal Credit

Universal Credit (UC) is a working age benefit to help with living and housing costs. It is available to those who are of working age on low income, not working due to illness, disability or have caring commitments.

Universal Credit has replaced:

  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support

Universal Credit also replaces housing benefit unless:

  • You live in supported, temporary or emergency accommodation
  • You and your partner are both pension credit age

In these circumstances, you may still be eligible to claim housing benefit.

Universal Credit is also a benefit for mixed aged couples where one party of the couple has got to Pension Credit age and the other is still working age.

If you have children, the number of children you have does not affect your eligibility for Universal Credit, but it may affect how much you get.

You will need to make separate claims for Council Tax Support and Free School Meals as they are not part of Universal Credit.

More about Universal Credit

If you are self employed and claim Universal Credit, it is important to remember your income will be assessed monthly to calculate your Universal Credit payment. This means at the end of each month you will need to report:

  • Your earnings from self employment, even if you have none
  • Any money paid into a pension
  • Payments into and out of your business

If you do not report your income and expenses at the end of each monthly assessment period, your Universal Credit award for that month will be assessed on the assumption you are working full time.

For more information on claiming Universal Credit while you are self employed please see the guidance provided by GOV.UK

Money Helper also has a useful guide if you claim Universal Credit and are self employed

If you are in financial difficulties then there is a range of financial support on offer to help you.

Advanced Payments

If you have little or no money to see you through until your first Universal Credit payment then you can apply for an advance payment by calling the Universal Credit helpline or asking for advice from your local Job Centre Plus.

You can apply for up to one full months payment of your estimated entitlement in advance. Please note though, this is a loan and not a grant, you will have to pay it back. More information can be found here.

Alternative Payment Arrangements

Alternative payment arrangements are available for those who are financially vulnerable or at risk of falling behind with their rent payments. To see whether this applies to your circumstances you can check here on the entitledto website.

Speak to your Job centre work coach to apply for an APA

Budgeting Advance

You can borrow some money to help with emergency household costs such as replacing a broken cooker or help getting a job or staying in work. This money will be repaid through your regular Universal Credit payments.

Eligibility criteria applies and how much you receive depends on your circumstances.

Speak to your Job centre work coach for more information and to apply.

Help paying your Council Tax

Council Tax Support (previously Council Tax Benefit) is not included in Universal Credit so you will need to apply to our revenues and benefits service separately for help paying your Council Tax bill.

Most private sector landlords won’t see any change with the introduction of Universal Credit.

This is because most working age claimants in the private rented sector are already used to receiving their Housing Benefit payments directly from us and are responsible for paying their own rent.

Those private sector landlords who do currently receive a direct payment from us are urged to familiarise themselves with the changes and look at how they can prepare themselves and help their tenants prepare as well.

If a tenant falls into arrears then it’s important to note that private landlords no longer need explicit consent from their tenant to apply for rental payments to be made directly to them.

The Department for Work and Pensions should start making payments direct to landlords if:

  • A claimant is in arrears with their rent for an amount equal to, or more than, two months of their rent.
  • A claimant has continually underpaid their rent over a period of time, and they have accrued arrears of an amount equal to or more than one month’s rent.
How to apply for a direct rent payment

If your tenant claims Universal Credit you can apply for a direct rent payment at GOV.UK

If you disagree with the decision about your Universal Credit claim, you can ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to change it. You’ll need to ask for mandatory reconsideration - this means the DWP will look at the decision again.

You need to contact them within 1 month of the date of the decision.

Further information is available from Citizens Advice

Please note that we do not hold detailed information regarding Universal Credit claimants and will not be able to advise you as to why or why not a payment decision has been made.

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