Universal Credit

Universal Credit (UC) – the all in one benefit 

If you are of working age and claiming certain benefits, you will eventually have to make a claim for UC. It’s being rolled out to different people at different times. If you are an EKH resident, are single and need to make a new claim for benefit, this will be a claim for UC. For families and couples, UC will be introduced from May 2017.

In the East Kent Housing areas Universal credit is still, in the main, affecting single new claimants. However, the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) have announced the next stage of the Universal Credit roll out, which will affect couples and families.  The following areas will go live with the Full Universal Credit Service as follows:

  • Dover - May 2017
  • Thanet - July 2017
  • Shepway - Feb 2018
  • Canterbury - April 2018

Watch the UC explained film:

What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a new benefit for working aged people in and out of work, which will bring together the following benefits into one monthly single payment and will replace these six benefits:

  1. Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  2. Income-related employment and support allowance
  3. Income support
  4. Child tax credits
  5. Working tax credits
  6. Housing benefit (you’ll have to pay your rent to us from your Universal Credit)

Did you know?

  • UC won’t affect people of pensionable age - use the online State Pension Calculator to find out if you qualify for a pension.
  • Council Tax Support or reduction is NOT included with UC
  • UC won’t initially affect couples or families but it will be be rolled out to these people in 2016/17; the timescales are yet to be confirmed.

How to apply for Universal Credit (UC)?
You can ONLY apply for UC online using a computer, tablet or smart phone - there are no paper forms to complete. This means you will need to have use or access to the internet to apply for UC.

IMPORTANT: It could take up to six weeks to receive your first UC payment – this means you will not be in receipt of any benefit payments during this time. For some, this may mean they won’t have any money to pay their rent, bills or buy food.

Requesting an advance payment to help during this time
You can ask for an advance payment from the UC service centre if you don’t think you’ll have enough money to live on between when you apply for UC and when you’ll get your first payment.

Be aware: The advance payment is a loan - you’ll have to pay it back. The repayments will be automatically deducted from your UC payments and you’ll get smaller UC payments until you pay back all the advance payment, which will take up to 6 months.

Important UC facts to know:

The biggest changes those receiving UC must be aware include:

  • You need to apply for UC online using a computer, tablet or smart phone
  • You need to have a bank account to receive UC 
  • You will receive a UC payment ONCE a month (on the same date each month)
  • You will need to pay your RENT yourself out of your UC payment
  • You can only make changes to your UC claim online 
  • You will need to budget for all your bills monthly

These facts are the general rules to UC – in some circumstances they may vary.

REMEMBER: Rent must be paid first

One of the biggest changes for those on UC will be that they need to pay their rent directly to their landlord – for some this may be the first time they have had to do this. The easiest way to make sure your rent is paid on time would be to set up an automatic payment on the day you receive your UC – either as a standing order or Direct Debit.

If you don’t pay your full rent amount on time, you could end up losing your home. So it’s vital you understand how you can pay your rent – visit our How to pay your rent section.

Remember: No one can live in their home rent free. We don’t want to evict anyone but if they don’t pay their rent and don’t get in contact with us for help, we may have no alternative.

Help and advice

If you need any support to manage the affects of Universal Credit, please get in touch with our Benefit and Money Advisors.

Do you want to give any feedback on the website? Give us your comments here