What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit (UC) is a single monthly payment for people of working age in or out of work. UC merges income-based Jobseekers Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Income Support and Housing Benefit. The aim is to incentivise work and ensure claimants are always better off in work.
What is different about UC?
The Government's aim is that by 2022, housing benefit for working age private and social tenants will no longer be dealt with by your Council but will be part of UC that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be dealing with.
UC will be a single monthly payment into a bank account. If you get help with your rent, this will be included in your monthly payment. You will have to pay rent to your landlord yourself, in full and on time.
Who will it affect?
For new single jobseekers in the New Forest, you may be required to claim Universal Credit. This will be if:
- You are making a new claim for Jobseekers Allowance
- You are aged between 18 and 60 (+6 months)
- You do not have any children
- You do not have a disability or long term illness
However, from 22 February 2017, UC will start to be rolled out for all working age claimants in the following areas (some postcodes):
Bartley, Bramshaw, Brook, Cadnam, Calmore, Copythorne, Lyndhurst, Minstead, Ower, Totton and Winsor
Therefore, for all new claims to any of the above benefits, you will claim UC.
If you have a relevant change in circumstances, your local Jobcentre Plus or Tax Credits office will tell you when you have to move to Universal Credit. For example claiming Child Tax Credits for the first time or you move from in work to out of work etc. You will no longer be able to claim Housing Benefit and any existing claim will be cancelled from the date you claim Universal Credit.
If a claimant is already claiming UC and moves into our area, you will continue to receive UC.
How to claim
You will be expected to make your UC claim on-line To make your claim you will need details of your (and any partners):
- Post code
- National Insurance Number
- E-mail address and contact number
- Bank or building society account details
- Earnings if working
- Benefits you get
- Savings and capital
- Tenancy agreement (if you have one)
- Children that live with you
- Income of adult children that live with you
If you can use a computer, but do not have access to one you can use computers at your local Jobcentre, library or some council offices. Please give time to complete your application, it may take 40 minutes or more. Once you start your application you cannot save it part way through.
You can call the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723 if you need help making your claim. When making your claim, make sure you check all the information, especially if you pay rent.
How will UC affect you?
- When you make a claim you are not entitled to any UC for the first 7 days of your claim. It may also take over six weeks from claiming to getting your first payment. If this will cause you hardship you can ask for an Advance Payment. This will be deducted from your UC payments.
- If you are getting Housing Benefit, this will stop as the housing element is paid with your UC. You must notify our office if you make a claim for UC. This will help avoid any overpayments.
- REMEMBER - Make sure you tick "Yes" to paying rent and fill in the correct rent details, otherwise you will not get all the UC you are entitled too!
- If you are a council tenant, and pay rent to New Forest District Council, we may be able to provide evidence of your rent directly to Universal Credit please contact us on 02380 285000 option 2
How can you get ready for UC?
- Make sure you have a bank account
- As UC is paid monthly, review your expenditure and work out your monthly budget. Make sure you have enough to pay your rent and council tax
In receipt of Universal Credit and struggling to pay your rent?
If you are in receipt of Universal Credit (Housing Costs) and you are struggling to pay any shortfall in your rent, you can apply to New Forest District Council for a Discretionary Housing Payment DHP
People of pensionable age
If you are of pensionable age you will continue to apply for, and receive, Housing Benefit until 2022.
Help with Council Tax
You may be able to get help with paying your council tax. You will need to complete an application form for Council Tax Reduction from the council. Please call us on 01590 646121 to make your claim. You must inform our office of any changes to your circumstances and you will need to provide us with your Universal Credit award letter when you first receive it and provide the letter every time the award changes.