What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit (UC) is a new single monthly benefit for working age people on a low income or who are out of work. It will replace six existing benefits, including tax credits and housing benefit.
You are working age if you are over 18 and under Pension Credit age.
It will be administered and paid by Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)
When does it start?
UC will be introduced gradually in Scotland from 2015. UC starts from April 2015 in West Dunbartonshire. You can get more information on the DWP website: gov.uk/universal-credit
Who is affected?
At first only single people making a new straightforward JSA claim will be asked to claim UC.
To be eligible you must have a bank account. The DWP aims to have UC fully rolled out to couples and families by 2020.
If you think you are eligible for any of the benefits that UC replaces, it is important to claim them now. No new claims for any of these benefits will be accepted once UC has been introduced.
How do I claim Universal Credit?
Claims must normally be made online. If you don't have access to a computer to make a claim you can go to:
- The Job Centre
- Local library or citizens advice bureau or
- Speak to your housing officer
If you are unsure about using a computer you should tell your job advisor who can arrange training for you.
Who is eligible to claim Universal Credit?
- Claims may be made by a single person or members of a couple jointly (with or without children)
- You must be at least 18 years old however, 16-17 year old can claim in special cases.
- You must not be in further or higher education, although there are some exceptions to this.
- You must be under the qualifying age for Pension Credit.
How will Universal Credit be paid?
UC will be paid monthly directly into your bank, building society or credit union account and will be paid in arrears. If you don't have a bank account or have difficulty opening one, talk to your housing officer who can direct you to support for this.
What about help with paying rent?
You will not be able to claim housing benefit to help with rent. Instead the rent element of your UC payment will be paid to you direct. It is your responsibility to pay your rent under UC. Only in exceptional circumstances will the rent be paid directly to Bellsmyre.
What do I need to do?
Paying your rent keeps a roof over your head and pays for repairs and other services. Being paid in arrears can cause difficulties with your rent very quickly. To safeguard your tenancy you should discuss rent payments with your housing officer as soon as possilbe after moving into UC. We have a number of ways to help you pay your rent.
What if I have difficulties with managing my money?
Bellsmyre residents can get help from Working 4 U, and the citizens advice bureau. There is a representative of citizens advice bureau in our office at Merkins Avenue every Wednesday morning.
Working 4 U: 01389 738296
Citizens Advice Bureau: 01389 744690
What else do I need to know about Universal Credit?
You need to sign a 'claimant commitment' which is your agreement with JCP about what you will do to seek a job when receiving UC. If you do not meet requirements you may be sanctioned and your benefit cut.
You can appeal but you must first ask for your case to be reconsidered. You should speak to your job advisor in the first instance.
What information do I give about my landlord?
When you claim UC online, you'll need to provide an address for your landlord. Our details are:
Bellsmyre Housing Association
16 Merkins Avenue
Remember, we are here to help. Talk to your housing officer if you want to make an appointment with the Working 4 U team or Citizens Advice Bureau.