What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit replaces some of the benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now.
It is for people of working age (between 18 and the state pension age). You can claim Universal Credit if you are out of work or in work with a low income.
Universal Credit replaces a number of benefits including, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Child Tax Credit, Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Working Tax Credit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Why is Universal Credit Different?
- You will need to manage your claim online
- It’s a single monthly payment, so all your benefits are combined into just 1 payment
- The monthly payment will be paid into your Bank or Building Society Account
- You are responsible for paying your rent as part of your Universal Credit payment may be allocated towards your rent (called housing costs).
- You will have to wait around 5 weeks before you get your first payment
How can I prepare for Universal Credit?
Many tenants who have moved onto Universal Credit are already getting into difficulties – make sure you are not one of them!
- Get access to the internet and an email address.
- Get a Bank Account that will allow your payment to be paid in. Here’s a link that might help you with this https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/basic-bank-accounts
- Set up a Direct Debit with Stoke on Trent Housing Society to pay your rent, preferably for the day that your Universal Credit is paid to you – call the Housing Team on 01782 968566.
- Make additional payments to your rent account to build up a credit so that you don’t fall into arrears whilst waiting for your UC payment
- Draw up a monthly budget , because Universal Credit is paid monthly, you may need to make changes to the way you budget.
How do I make my claim for Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is administered by the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP). Information about who’s eligible and how to make a claim is available on the GOV.UK website.
You will need the following information to claim online:
Yours National Insurance number
Details of a bank, building society or Post Office into which your Universal Credit will be paid
Your rent agreement (if you have one) or the amount of rent you pay
Details of any savings and other capital
Details of any non-work income – for example income from an insurance plan
Details of any other benefits you already get
You might also need these details for people who live in your home, e.g. your partner.
Do not delay in making your claim as the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) cannot backdate your claim except in exceptional circumstances.
Need Help with Making a Claim ?
Contact Citizens Advice HELP TO CLAIM on 0800 144 8 444
The helpline is open Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 6.00 pm and calls to the helpline are free from a landline or mobile.
The Citizens Advice help to claim service can:
Help you to start your claim- this may include setting up personal emails or bank accounts, setting up your UC account and working through claim ‘to-dos’.
Help you to complete your application.
Check your evidence to make sure it is in the right type and format, that it contains the required information and that it is accurate.
How will I manage while I wait for my first payment ?
It can take several weeks for you to receive your first payment. If you think you will have financial difficulty while you wait, you may be entitled to an advance payment until your claim is assessed. You will have to pay it back from your future monthly payments.
To request a hardship payment you will need to call the Universal Credit Helpline on 0345 600 0723
It’s important that you have access to the internet and the necessary skills to maintain your online Universal Credit account. If you don’t have access to the internet at home you can go to any library to set up and manage your account – City Library locations.
Computers are also available in jobcentres, along with WiFi which you can access via a smartphone or tablet. Contact us at the Society if you are struggling.