Universal Credit (UC)

Most people that make a new claim for JSA or ESA are being put onto Universal Credit. Since October 2017 this has included all new applications and anybody that has a change in circumstances. It is expected that by 2022 anyone who is entitled to any of the benefits in the diagram below will claim UC instead.

Pros

  • Universal Credit was brought in to simplify the benefit system as it will mean that everybody is on the same benefit including those that are in work.
  • It is more flexible as it works in real-time so you get paid the amount you are due for that period, unlike Working Tax Credit which is paid on previous year’s earnings.
  • This should help with many of the overpayment issues that we see.

What benefits are included in UC?

This diagram shows all the benefits that will form the new Universal Credit.

universal_credit.jpg

Please note Council Tax Support is NOT included so you will need to make a separate claim for this. Visit Manchester Council’s website or follow this link direct to the online form

The key differences of New Universal Credit (UC) are:

  • New/full service UC contact number is 0800 328 5644.
  • You will be given a 13-digit reference which you must keep safe. You will need this every time you log-in to your online account.
  • You will log-in to view statements, update your journal, report any changes in circumstances and upload documents.
  • Changes in circumstances need to be reported on your online account (instead of by phone).
  • Your UC statements will be available online in your account. Statements will not be sent to you by post.

When you claim the new UC you will need to provide photo ID. If you currently have some form of photo ID you could use the verify service where you can give permission for DWP to verify your identity. Watch this video for more information on verifying your identity. If you are unable to verify your identity online, you will need to book an appointment at your Jobcentre. You will be told what documents you need to take to the appointment.

For more information on new full service UC please visit the gov.uk website.

The amount of Universal Credit you can get depends on your circumstances and income.

Your Universal Credit payment is made up of a basic ‘standard allowance’ and any extra amounts that apply to you.

Your circumstances Monthly standard allowance
Single and under 25 £251.77
Single and 25 or over £317.82
In a couple and you’re both under 25 £395.20
In a couple and either of you are 25 or over £498.89

Correct as of January 2017

Extra Amounts

You may get more money on top of your standard allowance if you are eligible.

Criteria Monthly amount
For your first child £277.08 (born before 6 April 2017) £231.67 (born on or after 6 April 2017)
For your second and other children £231.67 per child
If you need help with childcare costs 85% of your costs (up to £646.35 for one child and £1,108.04 for 2 or more children)
If you have a disabled or severely disabled child £126.11 or £383.86
If you’re disabled or have a health condition £126.11 or £328.32
If you care for a disabled person £156.45

Correct as of January 2017

Housing Costs

You can get more money to help pay your housing costs. How much you get depends on your circumstances. It can cover:

  • rent
  • mortgage interest
  • some service charges
  • interest on a loan secured against your home

Work allowance

Your Universal Credit payment will reduce gradually as you earn more. For every £1 you earn your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by 63p.

You can earn a certain amount before your Universal Credit is reduced if you or your partner either:

This is called a ‘work allowance’.

Your work allowance will be lower if you get help with housing costs.

Your circumstances Monthly work allowance
You get help with housing costs £198
You don’t get help with housing costs £409

Correct as of January 2017

To carry out a benefit calculation to see how much Universal Credit you will receive click here.

You will need to claim Universal Credit online at www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit If you do not have a computer at home you can use one at your local Jobcentre, library or One Manchester job club.

If you need help completing your online claim Cheetham Hill Advice Centre are offering support on Thursdays and Citizens Advice Manchester provide help at various locations throughout the week. If you are a One Manchester customer and need further support with Universal Credit or help to claim, please call us on 0330 355 1000.

Here is a map to help you find your closest free computer access point and support:

Please note

Don’t start your application until you have all of the following details for you and your partner with you:

You will need to take evidence for all these details when you go to your interview.

Contact the Universal Credit helpline if:

Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

Alternative formats

Call the Universal Credit helpline to ask for alternative formats, such as braille, large print or audio CD.

Your Claimant Commitment

You will have to accept and sign a ‘Claimant Commitment’ if you want to get Universal Credit.

This is where you agree to complete certain tasks in order to receive Universal Credit.

What you agree will depend on things such as your health, your responsibilities at home and how much help you need to get work or increase your income.

Your Universal Credit payments will be stopped if you do not keep to your Claimant Commitment.

Your first payment

You will get your first monthly payment around six weeks after you have completed your application for Universal Credit.

You will receive a statement which will tell you:

  • when you will normally get paid
  • how much you will be paid
  • which bank account your money will be paid into

Advance payment

If you do not have enough money to live on while you wait for your first payment, you can call the helpline and ask for an advance payment. You will have to repay it through your regular Universal Credit payments so you will receive less money whilst you are paying it back.

If you are getting income from self-employment

As UC payments are paid in ‘real-time’ you will need to report your earnings every month.

You will be sent a ‘Statement of Earnings’ form which you will need to record any income received and expenses paid during your ‘assessment period’ (your Statement of Earnings form will tell you when this starts and ends).

You will need to report your earnings by calling the Universal Credit helpline within 14 days of the end of each assessment period.

If your payment is stopped or reduced (sanctioned)

If you do not keep to your Claimant Commitment, your Universal Credit could be stopped or reduced (‘sanctioned’).

If you receive Council Tax Reduction (also called ‘Council Tax Support’) and get a sanction, contact your local council immediately. They will tell you what to do to continue getting support.

If you get a sanction you can:

You may be able to get a hardship payment if you are sanctioned. You will repay it through your Universal Credit payments which means they will be lower until you pay it back.

A hardship payment will be a reduced amount of your normal Universal Credit award.

 

Eligibility

You can get a hardship payment if you are unable to pay for rent, heating or food for you or your household.

You must be 18 or over.

Every case is assessed individually. You will need to show that you have tried to:

  • find the money from somewhere else
  • only spend money on essentials

 

How to claim

Contact your work coach or Jobcentre Plus to find out how to claim a hardship payment.

 

You can appeal a decision about:

  • your initial claim
  • the amount of an award
  • a sanction

Ask for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ of the decision. You need to do this within one month of the decision. We can help you do this.

You will then get a letter saying whether the decision has been changed.

If you do not agree with what the letter says, you can usually appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal . The letter will say if there is a reason you cannot do this.