What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a new benefit for working age people that replaces a number of existing benefits and tax credits. It is designed to support people who have a low or no income with their basic living expenses and housing costs.
During 2015 and 2016 Universal Credit has been and is continuing to be rolled out across the whole of Great Britain for new claims for single jobseekers. In some parts of the country claimants may qualify if they are part of a couple or have children.
The amount claimants can get depends on their circumstances and how much other income they have. Claimants can continue to get Universal Credit if they are in work but have low earnings.
In November 2016 it was announced that from July 2018 Sleaford JCP would transfer to Digital Universal Credit, meaning North Kesteven District Council would also. This means when the full digital service rolls out to a specific area, anyone living in a full service area who is receiving existing benefits (Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefits) or tax credits and has a change of circumstance that would naturally trigger a new claim to Universal Credit will also be directed to claim Universal Credit.
Which Benefits is Universal Credit replacing?
Over a number of years the following benefits and tax credits will be abolished as Universal Credit replaces them:
Other benefits that are not means-tested will continue. Benefits based on National Insurance contributions such as contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance will not be replaced.
Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment will continue to be paid separately. Child Benefit will also continue to be paid separately.
Who can get Universal Credit?
To claim Universal Credit you must:
be 18 or over (in most cases)
not be homeless, in support or temporary accommodation, nor a homeowner
not have savings in excess of £6000
be under Pension Credit age
have lived in the UK for at least two years and not been abroad for more than four weeks continuously during that time
not have a caring responsibility
not be in education, training or self employed
have accepted a claimant commitment
If the claimant has a partner they will make a joint claim as a couple. If one of the couple does not meet any of the above conditions, that person will be ignored for the purposes of calculating the Universal Credit maximum amount - although their savings/capital, income and earnings will still be taken into account.
How and when is Universal Credit paid?
Universal Credit is different to other existing benefits, the main difference between Universal Credit and existing benefits is that Universal Credit is paid once a month on the same date each month. This is so that receiving benefits is like getting paid from work. Although Universal Credit is made up of different elements they are not distinguished, claimants will need to decide how much to set aside for each expense. The biggest change is that the housing costs element is paid direct to the claimant and not to the landlord once a month along with the rest of the benefit.
When will I be affected?
Universal Credit was introduced to North Kesteven residents from 30/11/2015, but only single persons who would have been making a NEW claim for Jobseekers Allowance. As of now there is no official date within our region for the next stage of roll out, this is expected to be announced shortly.
For more information on Universal Credit please go visit the Government website.
Apply for Universal Credit on Gov.uk.