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Universal credit

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a monthly benefit payment to help with your living costs, including your rent, and is replacing the following benefits:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

How do I make claim?

This video gives you a brief overview on how to make a claim for Universal Credit.

To claim Universal Credit you need regular access to the internet, an email address, a mobile phone number and a bank account to have your money paid into. You will also need to create an account with Universal Credit before you can make a claim, which will give you access to an online ‘journal’ which you will use to contact Universal Credit.

When you are ready, claims are made online at www.gov.uk/universal-credit/how-to-claim. You will need to have your rent, income, savings and any childcare cost information to hand.

If you are unsure what your current rent charge is, please contact us on 0300 561 1111, or email rents@irwellvalley.co.uk and we will be happy to help.

Once you have submitted your claim you are eligible to apply for an ‘advanced payment’ from Universal Credit to help you manage your living costs until you receive your first payment, which can take around five weeks from the date you made your claim. You can apply for an advance via your online journal, or by speaking to your Job Centre Work Coach. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will take a deduction from your benefit entitlement for the next 12 months to repay this money.

Can I get help to make a claim?

Citizens Advice run a free, independent service called ‘Help to Claim’. They can provide support from the early stages of making a claim up to you receiving your first payment.

To speak to one of their advisors please ring freephone 0800 144 8 444. Alternatively visit their website for more information: 

 https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/help-to-claim/

What if I am already in receipt of one of these benefits?

If you are already in receipt of one of these benefits then you do not need to do anything unless:

  • You need to report a change in your circumstances
  • The DWP contacts you about moving your claim over to Universal Credit

What else can I do?

  • Universal Credit does not include any help towards your Council Tax. You must claim this separately from your local council.
  • If you have school age children, speak to your local council about claiming free school meals.
  • Speak to us about paying your rent by ringing 0300 561 1111. The easiest way to pay when you are in receipt of Universal Credit is by monthly Direct Debit – we can set this up for you over the phone.
  • Report changes to your rent and/or service charges to Universal Credit via your online journal to make sure you are receiving the correct amount of benefit. We are unable to report these rent changes for you.
  • Always contact your Job Centre Work Coach via telephone or your online journal if you are unable to attend an appointment.
  • If your Universal Credit claim ends, please let us know so that we can update your information.

I am struggling to manage my money – what can I do?

If you are struggling to mange your money – we can help:

  • Make sure that you are claiming all the benefits that are available to you, including assistance with applying for a Discretionary Housing Payments if you have a rent shortfall to pay, for example due to bedroom tax.
  • Issue food bank vouchers for emergency assistance and obtain emergency gas and electric where available.
  • Offer budgeting advice, help you to reduce your outgoings and in particular look at any debt that you owe to utility companies.
  • Ask Universal Credit to pay your housing costs directly to us.

If you would like to speak to us about the help we can offer you, please ring us on 0300 561 1111 or email money.matters@irwellvalley.co.uk

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