Universal Credit Advice
Universal Credit (UC) has brought changes to how people of working age have their benefits are paid.
UC replaces a number of benefits including Housing Benefit with one single monthly payment for your household.
If you and your partner are eligible for UC, you will receive one payment rather than two.
UC will be paid straight to you. This means that you will become responsible for paying your rent on time. You can however request your Housing Costs are paid direct to your landlord.
Talk to us about when to claim Universal Credit
We have come across several examples where people are losing out on £££s just because of when they claim Universal Credit. Particularly if they are 4 weekly paid, paid on the last Thursday or Friday of the month or are waiting for their final pay.
Don’t let this happen to you as once the claim is made, it is nearly impossible to change. Talk to us, we will ask a few questions and let you know the best date to make your claim!
Who can claim Universal Credit?
If you are of working age (or are in a couple where at least one of you is working age) and have to make a new claim for any benefit it is likely that you will have to claim Universal Credit. Universal Credit is replacing most working age benefits by 2023, if you are already on benefits you will remain on these until the DWP tells you to move onto Universal Credit. However, you may move on sooner if you have a change in circumstances or if your benefits stop.
If you are unsure if a change in circumstances will mean that you have to claim Universal Credit or if your benefits have stopped, please contact our Advice Team on email@example.com or by phone
How will UC be paid to you?
UC is paid monthly into your bank account so you will need a bank account to receive your UC payments. If you do not have a bank account you can find out more from the Money Advice Service about choosing a bank account for your UC payment. We have also put together details of local banks.
Don’t worry, if you don’t have identification to open a bank account, documents such as your tenancy agreement can be used as identification to open a bank account. Just contact us on 0141 889 7105 (select option 5) and we will help you with this.
Your first payment of Universal Credit
You will have to wait for 5 weeks for your first payment of Universal Credit, if you need money straight away there are a number of options available to you;
1. You can apply for an Advance Payment of your UC. This is repaid over 24 months from your future UC payments. As you have to repay this, we would encourage you to only take what you need to manage for your first 5 weeks.
If you take the full advance payment available to you, this will include money for your rent and we will expect you to pay your rent from this.
If you are struggling to repay your Advance Payment, you can ask for the recovery to be postponed for 3 months. But you can only ask for this once.
2. You can apply for a Crisis Grant from Renfrewshire Council. You can do this by telephoning 0300 300 0204 (select option 2) When applying for a crisis grant you can apply for money to help with food, gas and electricity.
You do not have to repay a crisis grant.
3. We can provide you with a foodbank voucher so that you can access the local foodbank.
4. If you have been receiving Housing Benefit, Jobseekers Allowance, ESA or Income Support this should continue for 2 weeks after you have made your claim for Universal Credit, you do not have to repay this. Your benefits will not continue for 2 weeks if they stop before you make a UC claim.
Scottish Choices for Universal Credit Payment
In Scotland you can choose the following variations on your UC payments;
Payment of Housing Costs direct to your landlord
You can request this after you have received your first payment of UC. To arrange this you need to go on to your UC journal and submit a request. Please let us know if you request this.
Twice monthly payments of UC
Although UC is generally paid monthly, you can request that your UC payment is split into 2 payments to you each month.
This means instead of getting your full month’s payment when its due, you will receive half of it and then receive the 2nd half two weeks later.
What do you need to manage your UC claim?
• You need to have access to the internet
• You need to have an email address
Access to the internet
You will have to make and manage your claim online
If you feel you need help to make your claim online or to navigate your journal once your claim is made you can contact our Advice Team(link to advice team page) for support.
UC claims have to be made and managed online. This means you need access to the internet.
Don’t worry if you don’t have access to the internet at home or via a smartphone, there are a large number of public places in Renfrewshire you can access the internet from.
You can use a computer at a local library. To do this you need to book a slot which you can do online. To do this telephone 0300 300 118 (you will need your library card number to book and log on to a library computer)
You will need an email address of your own when applying for UC. If you don’t have one, we can help you set this up. Please call our Advice Team
Need help with your digital skills?
If you are worried about managing your claim online or not sure of how to use the internet, contact us. We can help you with this or refer you onto organisations that may better suit your needs.
OVERALL, DON’T WORRY – WE ARE HERE TO HELP
IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE TO CLAIM UNIVERSAL CREDIT, CONTACT US ON 0141 889 7105 (select option 3)
If you are unable to make and/or manage your claim online, you can make a telephone claim. However, it can be more difficult to manage your claim by phone as when DWP need to speak to about your claim they will send you a text message which will not explain why they need to speak to you. This can result in long phone calls and time on hold only to realise it was a minor issue.
As such it is often easier to manage your claim online, even if you need help from friends or family to do this.
IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE TO CLAIM UNIVERSAL CREDIT, CONTACT US ON 0141 889 7105 WE CAN HELP!
For further information on Universal Credit you can check the UK Government Website at https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit