What is universal credit?
The Government has been making a number of changes to the benefit system over the past few years, but the biggest of them so far is the introduction of Universal Credit (UC).
UC is a new benefit for people of working age and it replaces the following benefits:
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support (IS)
- Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit
It means that instead of getting different types of benefits at different times, all of the benefits you are entitled to will be included in one monthly UC payment.
Who is affected?
UC has been rolled out in stages and will arrive in Northampton in November this year. Not everyone who currently claims benefits will be affected immediately – only new single claimants initially – however over the next couple of years, existing claimants will be migrated to UC.
What does this mean for me?
Well, as with much in life – preparation is the key. Even if you don’t claim benefits now, you may in the future so there are a few things you need to know:
- All claims for UC are made online – there is no paper process.
- All UC payments are direct to a bank account – there is no other way to receive money.
- All UC payments are made one month in arrears – if you don’t have savings, you will be unable to keep up with payments in the event of needing to claim.
If you claim Housing Benefit it is currently paid direct to your rent account. Under UC an amount for housing costs will be included in the UC payment you receive. This means that when you switch to UC, you will become responsible for making rent payments to your account.