Universal Credit (UC) is a new social security benefit for people of working age. It combines means-tested support for adults, children and housing costs into one single household payment, administered and paid by the Department of Work and Pensions. It has been introduced in a phased program.
In the first phase Universal Credit was paid to single people only but, when full service rolls out- this will apply to everybody of working age.
The Universal Credit Full service has been in operation in East Dunbartonshire Area since November 2016. It is also in operation in the South Lanarkshire Area from October 2017 and the North Lanarkshire Area from April 2018.
This will affect people who require to make a new claim for any of the following benefits:
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credits
- Working Tax Credits
- Housing Benefit
Claims for Universal Credit are digital by default, which means that each claimant will require to have an e-mail address and have access to technology that will allow them to make an online claim and set up a Universal Credit Account.
The Department for Works and Pensions will appoint a Work Coach to support the claimant on their journey into accessing work for normally 35 hours or more per week. The claimant will require to agree and sign a Claimant Commitment with their Work Coach, in respect of their job search. The Claimant Commitment will take into account any disabilities or caring responsibilities that the claimant may have, and will include the number of hours that the claimant is required to work.
The claimant will receive and reply to all correspondence from their Work Coach via their online Universal Credit Journal, such training that they require to attend, assistance with their CV, websites they have visited in respect of finding work, job interviews etc. They will also notify any changes in their household, income, address or rent via their Journal.
The Work Coach will also identify if the claimant has a liability to pay rent and obtain details of the claimant’s Landlord in order that Housing Costs can be included in their Universal Credit assessment.
Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears and the claimant will not receive their first payment for 5 weeks. The claimant can request a Short Term Advance which can be paid at 100% of their total Universal Credit entitlement. They will need to repay the advance, which means that deductions will be taken from their Universal Credit Payment over a 12 monthly period.
In Scotland the Claimant can request to have their Universal Credit Payment paid twice per month and also request to have their Housing Cost Element paid direct to their Landlord. They will be able to do this after they have received their first monthly Universal Credit Payment.
Universal Credit Claimants who do not choose to have their Housing Cost Element paid direct to their Landlord will require to make arrangements with their Landlord in order to pay their rent immediately they receive their Universal Credit payment.
The Department of Work and Pensions have posted a useful on-line video called Universal Credit in Action-YouTube, which gives an overview of Universal Credit and how to make a claim for Universal Credit.
Universal Credit claimants who fail to carry out any of the tasks as set by the Work Coach, or to meet all aspects of their Claimant Commitment will receive a sanction on their Universal Credit payment. This means that their Universal Credit standard allowance will not be paid. The Housing Cost element, however will not be sanctioned and will be paid to the claimant or direct to the Landlord where this has been agreed.
Please contact our Income Maximisation Officers on 01698 268 855 if you require assistance or further information on any Welfare Benefit or Universal Credit matters.