Universal Credit is a new government means tested benefit that provides help to working age people who do not have enough money to live on. It is gradually being introduced across the country and will not affect everybody straight away.
Who will it affect?
In February 2016, Universal Credit started to be rolled out in Northumberland. At this stage it only affects preople who are single, of working age who do not have children and are making what would have been a new claim for jobseekers' allowance.
The full roll-out of the Universal Credit system to other "new" claimants (i.e. couples & families) is due to be completed by September 2018.
After this time, all claimants will be moved over to Universal Credit at some point between July 2019 and March 2022, but we will keep you informed.
If you're already claiming benefits, you don't need to do anything. You will be advised when any changes will affect you.
What does this mean for paying my rent?
If you are entitled to help towards your rent, this money will now be included in your Universal Credit payment and paid directly to you, your will no longer receive Housing Benefit. You will need to take responsibility for paying your rent to us and making sure you don't fall into arrears. Contact Us on (0345) 600 6400 to set up a direct debit
*Council Tax Benefit (or Council Tax Reduction), will not be paid You will need to make a separate claim for help towards your council tax.
How do I claim?
The majority of people will have to make their claims and manage any changes to their application online.
Alternative arrangements may be considered for individuals unable to use an online account, but this will only be in exceptional cases.
For more on what information you will need to make your claim read this useful checklist on Citizens Advice
How will I be paid?
You will get a single payment every month to cover your living costs. This will be paid directly into your bank, building society or credit union account.
If you make a joint claim as a couple, you'll get a single payment for both of you.
It'll usually take 8 weeks after you apply to get your first payment. After this, you will be paid monhtly. If you are concerned that your rent will be late get in touch on (0345) 600 6400.
If you think you won't have enough money to live on, you can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit, by calling the helpline on (0345) 600 4272.
Where to go for help?
If you need some help with your application there are a number of organisations who can support you through the process, including our staff here at the council.
- Contact us on (0345) 600 6400 and speak to one of our benefit advisors
- Your local job centre
- Your local library
- Your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau
- Universal Credit helpline - (0345) 600 0723 www.gov.uk/universal-credit