Friday 17th November 2017
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Universal Credit

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Universal Credit

Universal Credit is now available in Luton

Universal Credit (UC) is a key part of changes that have been made in recent years to the welfare system.

It provides a single system of support for working-age people who are in or out of work and will usually be paid in a single monthly sum to households. It is based on your income and the amount of savings you have.

UC began in Luton in February 2016. It applies to new, single, working-age jobseekers’ allowance claimants only.
 
The government is rolling out UC fully in Luton from July 2018 to support you if you’re working and on a low income or you’re out of work. It replaces some of the benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now:
  • housing benefit (administered by us)
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
More benefits will be added to this list over time.
 
UC is made up of a standard allowance plus elements for:
  • housing
  • being a carer
  • childcare costs
  • disabled children
  • an ill or disabled adult
It is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) through JobCentre Plus.
 
Under the current benefits system, separate payments are made for each of these benefits but under UC you will receive one single monthly payment, paid in arrears.

Apply for Universal Credit here

You may be affected if you are:

  • making a new claim for benefits
  • aged between 18 years and 60 years and six months
  • single and a British Citizen
  • have a valid national insurance number (not temporary)
  • newly unemployed and fit for work
  • employed and do not expect your net earnings to exceed £338 in the next month

Check if you're eligible for Universal Credit here.

To find out more information about UC, GOV.UK offers details of how it could affect you and how you can claim.
 
If you are struggling with debt, we help to fund debt advice management service run by the Luton Advice Network.
 
See below for more information about UC.
 

Who won't be affected

Although further changes will happen in the future, you will not be initially affected if you:

  • have childcare responsibilities, including CMEC payments, or are pregnant
  • have any caring responsibilities eg for a disabled person
  • are homeless or in supported accommodation
  • are a homeowner or have shared ownership
  • are self-employed
  • are in education of training (or starting within the next month)
  • are currently receiving, or waiting to hear (including appeals or reconsideration) about a claim for:
    • Jobseeker’s Allowance
    • Employment Support Allowance
    • Incapacity Benefit
    • Severe Disablement Allowance
    • Income Support
    • Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit
    • Housing Benefit
  • or if you are entitled to:
    • Disability Living Allowance
    • Personal Independence Payment
    • Carer's Allowance

Existing benefit claimants

If you are already claiming any benefits, you don't need to do anything. You will be told when Universal Credit will affect you.

Claiming Universal Credit

Making a claim for Universal Credit

The information below will help make your claim for Universal Credit.

If you need further assistance to make your claim, please visit our Customer Service Centre in the Town Hall.

For more help to get online – see Learn My Way

Before you start:

Make sure that you have the following information to hand:

  • your national insurance number
  • details of any rent you pay and your landlords address
  • details of any savings and capital you have
  • details of any earnings, other income and child care you have to pay

The form may take up to an hour to complete if you are single and up to 1 hour 30 minutes if you are a couple depending on your circumstances.

You need to set up an online account to claim Universal Credit

To do this you will need: 

  • you must have a personal e-mail address or mobile telephone number in order to set up your account.  If you need help to create an e-mail account, please ask for further information or visit Learn My Way
  • you must note the passwords, security questions and the security code you set up – these are needed to access your account in future.

If you have a partner you will both need to create an online account:

  • your partner does not need to be present when you set up your account
  • you will need to link your accounts with the code provided before you can submit your claim
  • you need to link your accounts within 7 days
  • any delay in linking accounts will result in lost entitlement

To check your eligibility and to make a claim, please click on the button below.

Check your eligibility and make a claim

After you have made your claim:

  • you will be advised to make an appointment to attend your local Jobcentre Plus office which you must attend to complete your claim
  • you will need to take evidence of your identity and other proof in support of your claim, such as your rent or childcare costs
  • if you fail to arrange this appointment or do not attend, your claim may not be processed and you will lose entitlement
  • your claim should be decided within two weeks although a payment will not be made until after 6 weeks or longer
  • if this delay will cause financial difficulty, ask at the Jobcentre interview about an advance payment. You will have to pay this back
  • UC is a single payment, paid calendar monthly. Some people find it difficult to budget whilst on UC. If you think you will have problems or already have debts and are finding it difficult to manage help is available. As part of the interview you will be offered free budgeting advice
  • make sure you check your email and texts daily for any communication in relation to your UC claim and act promptly to any requests

Other Support for people claiming Universal Credit:

  • if you require help to pay your Council Tax you will need to make a claim for support in addition to your UC claim.
  • if you have problems with your claim for UC there is a helpline where you can receive further advice  - 0345 6000 723
  • you can access free budgeting support at any point in your claim,  you can do this by speaking to your work coach or via your journal
  • if you are struggling to pay your rent with the level of your UC, you may be able to access additional support through the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme
  • inform your landlord and the council if you are struggling to pay your rent or council tax. In most cases arrangements can be made to support our local Luton Access Network who can also provide advice.

For other help and assistance click on the links below:

How will Universal Credit be paid?

You will receive one payment each month which is made in arrears. It will be paid as a lump sum, and will include a personal expense element for day-to-day living expenses and a housing cost element for rent.

You will need to ensure you have a bank account, building society or Post Office account. For help and information on opening accounts please visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

Any help you get with your rent will be included with your Universal Credit payment. In most cases you will be expected to pay your landlord yourself, even if your landlord is a housing association or your local council.

Be prepared

This may be the first time you have had to make rent payments directly to your landlord. To make it easier for yourself:

  • make sure you know exactly how much your rent is
  • speak with your landlord or agent to agree a date each month for payment
  • make sure you get a receipt for any cash payments of rent and keep those receipts safe as proof of payment
  • whichever way you agree to pay your rent, make sure you keep a record of payments and amounts
  • if you have concerns about paying your landlord directly, tell your JobCentre Plus work coach at your interview

Budgeting and money advice

If you have difficulty budgeting, or would like help with it, speak to your JobCentre Plus work coach who can refer you to the Luton Access network.

In some limited circumstances, an alternative payment arrangement may be considered.

For more information on budgeting and money advice visit www.lutoncab.org.uk or www.moneyadviceservice.org.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme

Claimants of Universal Credit will need to make a separate claim for Council Tax Reduction as this is not a part of Universal Credit.

Click here for more information on Council Tax Reduction and to make a claim.

What you need to make a claim

You will need to fill in an online form to make a claim for Universal Credit. A link to the form can be found at the top of this page.

When you make a claim, you will need to have:

  • your postcode
  • your national insurance number
  • details of the bank, building society or Post Office account you want your Universal Credit paid into - without one you will not be eligible for Universal Credit
  • your rent statement (if you have one)
  • details of your savings or other capital details of any income that’s not from work, eg from an insurance plan
  • details of any other benefits you are claiming
  • details of any children, including their Child Benefit numbers

Have all the above information ready before you make your claim. The form must be completed in one session as it cannot be saved so being prepared will stop you having to start your application again. The Universal Credit website will also tell you what type of information you need to have with you.

You will be asked a series of questions which will determine whether you are eligible for Universal Credit.

If you get stuck while you are making your claim, a helpline is available:

Universal Credit helpline
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
0345 (or 0845) 600 0723

There is also a lot of help available about making a claim at www.gov.uk/universalcredit.

What help is available when making a claim?

Help and support is available if you would like some help to make your claim:

  • JobCentre Plus - staff can refer you if you have difficulty accessing a computer or need support to complete the online form
  • JobCentre Plus - can provide access to the internet or tell you about local places where you can use the internet for free, eg your local Job Centre or local library
  • Money Advice Service for help budgeting and planning for Universal Credit if a need for support is identified by your JobCentre work coach
  • free Online Basics Course with the Learn My Way website if you are not confident using the internet
  • UK online centres provide a beginner's course if you do not know how to use a computer or the internet

How long will it take for my claim to be processed?

It should take 20 to 40 minutes to complete your claim form online. It must be completed in one session as it cannot be saved.

If you are successful, you will usually get your first payment one month and seven days after you made your claim. You will need to ensure you budget for these first five weeks as Universal Credit is paid in arrears.

If you are not eligible for Universal Credit you will get an onscreen message telling you this and directing you to further information about benefits and credits that you might be able to get.

What do I do if I don't get the money I am expecting?

The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for the payment of Universal Credit claims. You should contact your local JobCentre if you think your benefit is wrong.

Who processes the claims?

The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for processing Universal Credit claims.

What is our role in Universal Credit?

The role of local councils is to support those people in most need to make the transition to Universal Credit. This includes:

  • providing help to make the claim if you are unable to do so yourselves
  • providing personal budgeting support where this need is identified by JobCentre Plus work coaches

 
 
 

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