Are you ready for Universal Credit?
Key Facts | How do I know I am eligible? | What if this doesn’t apply to me? | When do I need to claim? | When will I be paid? | How to claim | Bank Account | How do I pay my rent? | Can I get help with budgeting? | Can I get help with Debts? | Can I get help finding a job or improving my skills? | How does my UC claim work? | Claimant Commitment | Sanctions | Advanced Payments | Moving into work | Your Income Team
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit (UC) is a benefit for people of working age.
It replaces some of the benefits and tax credits you might be getting now including:
- Job Seekers Allowance
- Employment Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credits
- Working Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
It was designed to help support people on a low income (in and out of work) and it allows you to work, and still receive support. The amount you get is adjusted in line with your (and your partner's, if you have one) earnings.
- Universal Credit is paid once a month on the same date (unless it falls on a weekend/bank holiday where it will be paid on the previous working day)
- If you get help with your rent, this will be included in your monthly payment – you’ll then pay your landlord directly
- If you live with someone as a couple and you’re both entitled to claim UC, one monthly joint payment will be paid into a single bank account. If you're concerned you won't get access to this money, speak to your Work Coach - you can get an alternative payment arrangement to receive split payments
- Your UC payments will be made directly to you and includes any payments you may have received from other benefits in one monthly lump sum. This includes money for your rent, food, council tax, gas, electric and water
- UC is paid monthly in arrears so it can take up to five weeks after you make your claim to get your first payment
- There are no limits on how many hours a week you can work if you’re claiming UC. Instead, the amount you get will gradually reduce as you earn more, so you won’t lose all your benefits at once
- You have to make (and manage) your claim online
- If you don’t declare your situation correctly on time, you may miss out
To claim Universal credit you must:
- be aged 18 or over
- be under pension credit age
- not have savings over £16,000
- not be in full-time education or training
How much Universal Credit you get will depend on your household situation and income. Check out your entitlement here: https://incommunities.betteroff.org.uk
Universal credit may not apply to some people if:
- You have reached pension credit age (check here: https://www.gov.uk/state-pension-age)
- You receive severe disability premium
- Some non-UK nationals
For more information on where to get help please contact our team on 0330 175 9540.
At the moment you will only need to claim Universal Credit when your situation changes, and you need to make a new claim for the above benefits.
The Job Centre will start to write to anyone who has not moved onto Universal Credit to let them know when they need to start claiming. You must respond within 28 days or your old income may stop.
If you claim too early, you could end up missing out on money. For further guidance check your details here: https://incommunities.betteroff.org.uk
Check if you're ready for Universal Credit: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/budget-planner
Universal credit is paid monthly in arrears. This means your first payment can take approximatley 5 weeks to be paid. If you need help budgeting or support whilst this payment is processed, please contact our team on 0330 175 9540. You may also be able to get an advanced payment loan.
- Sara makes a new claim for Universal Credit on 22nd March
- This makes her assessment date 21st April. It means she will be paid on the 28th of each month
- She needs to wait one assessment period (that’s a calendar month) to 21st April because Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears
- She also needs to allow up to seven days for the money to reach her account
- She should expect her first payment of Universal Credit no later than 29th April
- If 29th April is a bank holiday, she should receive payment on the last working day before the holiday
You must have a bank account to set up a claim for Universal Credit. Some Post Office accounts are accepted but not all of them.
We have an agreement with this Barclays (Bradford Central branch) that they will support out customers to access a basic bank account, you just need to show your tenancy agreement.
Barclays Bank - Address: 10 Market Street, Bradford, BD1 1EG - Tel: 0345 734 5345
For more information about setting up a bank account for your Universal Credit payments, click here
Incommunities can help you set up a Direct Debit in line with your monthly payment date.
When completing your Universal Credit application, you should declare that you rent a property from Incommunities and have to make payments towards the rent based on your tenancy agreement.
You can find your up to date rent information on your Incommunities Online account here or by calling 0330 175 9540.
Dependant on your circumstances, Universal Credit/ may include money to help you pay your rent. It is really important that you ensure you pay your rent before any other bills. If you need help with dealing with any debts please call us on 0330 175 9540.
We understand that it can sometimes be a challenge to manage your money and make sure you pay all your bills on time.
You may have been on weekly, two weekly or 4 weekly payments before Universal Credit. If you need help with changing payment plans or dealing with your debts we can help.
Incommunities provides a Personal Budgeting Service (PBS) at all 3 of the local job centres, Eastbrook Court, Westfield House and Keighley. Speak to your Work Coach or contact us and ask for a referral to this service.
You can also use this personal budgeting planner: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/budget-planner
Speak with our Income team about rent debt on 0330 175 9540.
There are many debt agencies that provide support including:
Please click on the above organisations to find out more.
At Incommunities we offer a range of free courses/assistance that can help customers get into work or improve their skills. This includes:
- Functional skills (English & Maths)
- Baisc computing skills
- Job Clubs
Find out more here: https://incommunities.co.uk/employment-train
To apply for UC, please click this link: https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit
For tutorials and guides on submitting your claim and managing your UC account, please click here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7Km4IXfVJB1n8SQUmkJD0Q
Universal Credit is claimed online through Direct.Gov Website. You can do this via a computer, your mobile phone or a handheld device. If you don’t have access to the internet there are digital access points at our offices, local community centres, libraries, and the Job centre and at some council buildings.
Once you have made your claim online you will need to verify your identity. You can do this through the gov.uk verification process. If you are unable to complete this, complete your Universal Credit online claim and take proof of your identity with you when you attend your first interview at the Jobcentre.
You can verify your ID with a form of photo ID such as a passport of driving licence. If you don’t have photo ID, the Job Centre will accept other forms such as bank cards or previous benefit claims – click here for more information.
At the end of your claim, you'll be given a phone number to arrange your 1st appointment at the Job Centre. At this appointment you will need to sign a Claimant Commitment; this will set out your tasks which you must complete in order to receive your payments.
Without signing your claimant commitment, you will not be able to claim Universal Credit and will not receive any payments.
Every month your claim will be assessed in line with your current circumstances. You must ensure you keep to your claimant commitment and keep your account up to date with any changes.
You need to regularly update and communicate with your work coach online. This ongoing relationship is really important.
If you're a couple, you may have a different agreement with your work coach compared to your partner. Should either of you not do as you have agreed, you both may face a sanction.
If you receive a sanction, please contact us if you feel it is unfair. You need to appeal it through logging a contact on your Universal Credit journal.
As part of your Universal Credit claim you will need to sign a claimant commitment. This outlines what you must do in order to receive your payments from UC.
Your claimant commitment may include terms such as:
- To complete 35 hours job search every week
- To keep my account up to date with any changes
- To respond to any communication from my workcoach through my online journal
- To attend training sessions to improve my skills
You must ensure that terms are achievable for you. If you fail to complete all the terms you may receive a sanction.
If you feel you are struggling to keep to your claimant commitment, speak to your workcoach and ask for it to be reviewed.
As part of a couple you will have a joint claim for UC – but you will have different claimant commitments depending on your individual needs. Should either of you not do as you have agreed, you both may face a sanction
If you receive a sanction from Universal Credit, you will not receive the personal element portion of your money. This could lead to a big drop in income.
If you believe your sanction was unfair, you should appeal it. This can be done by logging an entry on your UC journal and contacting your workcoach; if they do not uphold your appeal you can ask for it to be escalated to a manager.
For support in doing this, please contact us 0330 175 9540.
When you first claim Universal Credit, you will not receive your first payment for approximately 5 weeks.
Should you be eligible for Universal Credit, you can apply for an Advanced Payment Loan from the Job Centre. This payment may include the money for your rent, which you must ensure is paid onto your account.
We recommend you take as little as possible from your advance payments as this will reduce your on-going payments.
If you are unsure whether you should take an advance payment, speak to your work coach or contact team on 0330 175 9540.
If you are moving into work after claiming Universal Credit, you can apply to the Job Centre’s Flexible Support Fund. They can support you to cover costs like 1st month’s child care, clothes for interview and travel. Speak to your Workcoach to find out more.
If, due to an increase in income, you are not eligible for UC for 1 month you must submit a reclaim online if you think you will be entitled to a payment the following month.
This video shows you how this is done.
Managing money can be difficult - especially when your income changes or unexpected emergencies come up. Your Income Team are trained to support you through these changes and ensure you maintain your tenancy. We have dedicated staff that can come to your home, job centre or meet you in the office to support you to manage your money and keep on top of things.
- Negotiate payment plans with the water board, council tax and others
- Review your income and outgoings
- Identify and support your to apply for additional income
- Offer affordable payment plans for your rent to suit your income pattern
- Identify supporting agencies, local community centres
- Provide information on eligible benefits
If you need any further information about Universal Credit, benefits or support please contact us:
Tel: 0330 175 9540
Visit us: The Quays, Victoria Street, Shipley, BD17 7BN (Please note, currently our office is closed for visitors due to coronavirus restrictions)
Don’t suffer in silence, we are here to help.
If you are concerned about your finances or paying your rent get in touch with our team on 0330 175 9540.
You can also visit the Money advice service website for help, advice and a personalised action plan https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/mntdemo