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If you are confused by the new Universal Credit you are not on your own. Many people are still not clear about how they will be affected or what they need to do. If that sounds like you don’t panic, help is at hand. See our latest Universal Credit Advice page for the most up to date information.
Here are some facts on Universal Credit you may find helpful and also details of where to find more information.
Universal Credit is a new means-tested single benefit payment that is going to replace certain income-based benefits over the next four years starting from this month (April).
The new Universal Credit payment system will start for new claimants in selected areas of North West England this month. New claimants elsewhere in England, Scotland and Wales will be enrolled into the Universal Credit system after October 2013, and new claims in Northern Ireland will receive Universal Credit as from April 2014.
If you are already claiming benefits that are affected by these changes, you will be switched over to Universal Credit sometime between April 2014 and 2017.
In a press release from his Government department, Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said that by April 2014 over one million people will be claiming Universal Credit. It is expected to rise to 12 million by 2017.
Universal Credit will only apply to people aged 18 or over, but under the qualifying age for pension credit (i.e. of working age) who are on a low income with savings of less than £16,000 and who need help with bills including rent and childcare.
It will ultimately replace Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits and Housing Benefit. In future, any new claimants who are eligible for any of these benefits will receive one Universal Credit payment each month, instead of the individual benefits listed.
If you are already claiming any of the above benefits then your local benefits office will contact you in advance regarding your switch to Universal Credit.
Improve the transistion
One of the aims of the new system is to improve the transition from unemployed to employed, because it can be claimed by households with people who have just started work, or who are already in work but on low income.
As part of the Government’s ‘digital by default’ scheme, Universal Credit must be applied for online. Claimants will be expected to manage their claims with an online account. Anyone who needs help with this can contact a designated ‘Digital Champion’ in their local Jobcentre. This person will be fully trained to help and support people who are unsure about managing their Universal Credit information via the internet.
Further information on Universal Credit is available on the following websites:
Turn2Us (benefits help)
If you are a Payplan client who is worried how Universal Credit will affect your payments speak to your Case Officer as soon as possible. They will be able to talk through your personal circumstances and see how Payplan can help.