Are you prepared for Universal Credit?

The 2017 Autumn Budget was announced on 22 November and included some changes that may affect you if you apply for universal credit in the future. The full details are not yet known, but it is clear that they will impact many residents in your area.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal credit is a new benefit that will replace the different types of working age benefits. It means you will receive your benefits in one monthly payment and you will be responsible for paying your full rent yourself. For more information on how you can prepare for universal credit, visit www.midlandheart.org.uk/benefitadvice.

How long will it take to get my first payment?

It was announced that the standard waiting time for your first payment of universal credit will change from six weeks to five weeks as of February 2018.

Can I get any additional payment before I receiven my first payment?

You may apply for an advanced payment of universal credit whilst you are awaiting your first payment which is known as a short-term advance payment. To get this payment, you must be in financial need; this means that there is a serious risk of damage to the health and safety to you, your partner or any children you are responsible for. You can apply either through your work coach at the job centre or by calling the universal credit service centre on 0843 515 8476.

Will I have to repay the additional payment if I am awarded it?

Yes. From January 2018 the repayment period will be extended from 6 to 12 months.

Will I still receive housing benefit when I apply for universal credit?

From April 2018, those already on housing benefit before moving to universal credit will receive housing benefit during the first two weeks. The Department for Work and Pensions have confirmed this and it will help you to meet rent payments whilst waiting for the first full payment of universal credit.

Once you have received your full universal credit payment, you will no longer receive housing benefit separately, it will become part of the one monthly payment. It was also announced that the government will make it easier for claimants to have the housing cost element of universal credit paid directly to their landlord, helping customers to not fall into arrears.

In order to prepare for this change, you may wish to start over paying rent to get in front with payments. This can be done by setting up a direct debit.

For more information on Universal Credit, visit www.midlandheart.org.uk/benefitadvice or call 0345 60 20 540 (press option 1) to speak to our friendly Money Advice team.

To download a copy of this leaflet, click here.