What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit (UC) is replacing the following means tested benefits:
- Income Support
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
- Tax Credits
- Housing Benefit for people of working age.
The benefits that UC is replacing are sometimes called ‘legacy benefits’.
Who will these changes affect?
Most new single job seekers across the country are now required to claim a limited version of UC instead of income based JSA.
Since May 2016, Newcastle residents in the Newcastle City Jobcentre area (Cathedral Square) have had to claim the ‘full service’ UC instead of the legacy benefits when claiming for the first time or after certain changes in circumstances.
The Government recently announced that the ‘full service’ UC will further be rolled out to Newcastle East Jobcentre (Coquet House) in February 2017, and Newcastle West Jobcentre (Condercum House) in March 2017.
Getting ready for Universal Credit
Because UC works differently from the benefits it replaces you may need to plan for the changes. Here are the differences you need to be ready for:
- Most people will be paid UC once a month direct to their chosen account.
- You will be expected to make your claim online.
- You’ll get a single payment of UC credit for your household.
- If your UC includes financial help for your rent, you’ll need to pay this to your landlord yourself.
Preparing for these changes, particularly around budgeting monthly rather than weekly, arranging to have a bank account, or increasing your confidence online, will make the switch over to Universal Credit easier to manage.
If you find budgeting difficult you may be able to arrange for payments to be made more frequently, split between partners, or the housing element to be made direct to your landlord.
Find information and support
If you think you need help with budgeting, you should talk to your Jobcentre Plus work coach.
If you need help to get online, the City Council Libraries hold regular free training sessions to help you. To find out more phone 0191 2774100 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find out where you can get free or low cost access to computers, IT training and support in Newcastle by using this map.
For more information on UC and the support available to help with these changes, here.
To find out more about getting ready for UC, visit the Money Advice Service or Your Homes Newcastle.