What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit has arrived in the Northwest and is being rolled out to families as well as single claimants.  All Job Centres in the North West England are included in the UC scheme which started 2nd March 2015.

Universal Credit  (UC) is a new benefit for working age people that replaces a number of existing benefits and tax credits, however National Insurance contribution based benefits remain unaffected (listed below see table I). It is designed to support people who have a low/nil income with their basic living expenses and housing costs. UC is different to any existing benefit in that it is paid to the claimant monthly as a single payment; Housing Benefit is no longer paid separately to cover housing costs, this will be included in the UC payment called the housing element of UC. The amount of UC received will depend upon an individual’s circumstances and the claimant must agree to sign a Claimant Commitment which will be tailored to a person’s circumstances. In order to keep receiving UC the claimant must adhere to the Claimant Commitment.

Table I

NB Child benefit and disability living allowance & Personal Independence Payment will continue to be paid separately

Universal Credit & Eligibility to claim

UC is payable to people out of work, people looking for work and people unable to work due to illness, disability or childcare commitments. It is also paid to people in work on low incomes as UC will replace Working Tax Credit. You can only claim Universal Credit if you are working age (16-pension age) and live in certain areas of Britain piloting UC (there is a link below to map showing UC pilot areas). Currently UC can only be claimed if you are making a new claim for an out of work benefit and will be made online.

It is very important to keep your Client Service Officer informed if you have made a claim for Universal Credit as they will then be able to assist you with the process and provide advice regarding payment options for the housing element of your UC claim; as well as sign posting you to independent organisations who can also help