Universal Credit is a new benefit for working age people who are on a low income or out of work. It replaces a number of existing benefits and tax credits:
- Housing benefit
- Income Based Job Seeker’s Allowance
- Income Based Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
Up until recently, only single people have been required to claim Universal Credit, but over the course of 2017 to 2018, everyone who would previously have claimed the above benefits will claim Universal Credit (with some exceptions). This is known as full service Universal Credit and is being rolled out by Job Centre Plus area. The Job Centre Plus which cover Vale of White Horse District Council area and the date of the roll out are set out by post code and they are:
SN 6 8
OX12 0, OX12 7, OX12 8, OX12 9, OX13, OX14
OX1, OX2 0, OX2 8, OX2 9
OX29 4, OX29 7, GL7 3
Claiming Universal Credit
You will not have to claim Universal Credit for your housing costs when your postcode area falls under the live service if:
- in your accommodation, you also receive care, support or supervision. You will need to claim Housing Benefit for your housing costs and Universal Credit for your living costs.
- you have three or more children. You will need to claim Housing Benefit for your housing costs and either Income Support, Job Seeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance for your living costs, depending on your circumstances. You will also need to apply for Tax Credits if applicable.
When you apply for Universal Credit, you will have to provide proof of your identity. Examples of proof include:
- driving licence
- debit or credit card
You will also need the following details in order for the Department for Work and Pensions to process your claim:
- an e-mail address and on-line access as your claim is managed on-line.
- your national insurance number
- information on your housing costs – details of the rent you pay e.g. tenancy agreement, or your mortgage
- details of your income
- details of capital you hold e.g. bank accounts, shares, any property you have an interest in
- details of how much you pay for childcare if you are applying for childcare costs
If you will have difficulty in providing any of the above details, please contact the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723.
If you do not have internet access, or need help using a computer, you can go to your local Citizens Advice Bureau, or the Wantage Independent Advice Centre and make your claim there. See below for how to find them.
Payment of Universal Credit
Universal Credit is paid differently to other benefits you may have received previously in that it is paid monthly into your bank account with no distinction between your housing and living costs. You will need to ensure that you budget correctly to ensure your rent/mortgage is also paid out of the single payment you receive.
Your first payment of Universal Credit will not arrive until six weeks after your initial claim if you have provided all the information the Department for Work and Pensions require to assess your claim. If you are struggling to pay your rent and other living costs during this period, you can ask that an advance payment is made, either when you have an interview with your work coach at the Job Centre, or by calling the helpline on 0345 600 0723. This advance payment will be recovered from your ongoing Universal Credit payments.
If you are having financial difficulties and/or trouble paying your rent, you can apply to have your rent costs paid direct to your landlord. This is called an Alternative Payment Arrangement. You should speak to your work coach at the Job Centre about this.
Housing Costs for People Aged 18-21 Years
In Universal Credit full service areas (see above for dates these will be rolled out) 18 to 21 year old who are single will not be able to claim housing costs. There will be a number of exceptions, the main ones being:-
- People in temporary accommodation.
- People where it is deemed inappropriate for them to live their parents, including (but not limited to) where there would be a serious threat to their physical or mental health.
- People who live in accommodation where they receive care, support or supervision (they would claim Housing Benefit for their housing costs).
- People who work for at least 16 hours per week at the national minimum wage.
- People who had been in work for at least 16 hours per week at the national minimum wage for the previous 6 months.
Once you have been awarded Universal Credit and you are still having problems paying your rent, you can apply to the Council for a discretionary housing payment to help with your housing costs.
Last reviewed: 09 - 10 - 2017