Universal Credit is a benefit for people of working age. It combines support for adults, children, and housing costs into one benefit. Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears instead of fortnightly or weekly and is replacing:
- Housing Benefit
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Income Support
- Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Who does it affect?
Universal Credit full service starts in Havering from June 2018. Most people who need to make a new claim for the above benefits, or those who are already claiming but have a change of circumstances, will need to claim Universal Credit.
A person will need to make a claim for Universal Credit if they:
- are of working age
- are working but on a low income
- are not working but are able and available to work
- currently have limited capability for work related to a disability or health condition but this is expected to change over time
- have a disability or health condition that prevents them from working
- care for a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours per week
- have two or less children and are the lead carer for them
- live in a property that they are renting or are a leaseholder who has service charges
- need to make a new claim for benefits or are already claiming benefits but has a change of circumstances
Will I get help with my rent if I get Universal Credit?
You must claim for help with your rent when you make your claim for Universal Credit. Your rent costs will be paid directly to you as part of your monthly Universal Credit payment and you will be responsible for paying your rent out of that money.
If you are a Havering Council tenant you will need to arrange a Direct Debit with Housing Services or a standing order with your bank to pay your rent.
What about help with my Council tax?
If you have applied for or are in receipt of Universal Credit and are liable for Council tax you must make a separate application for Council Tax support online.
What do I need to do to make sure that I am prepared?
Access to the internet - Universal Credit is claimed and managed online. There is no paper form and everything is always done online.
A bank account - You will need a transactional bank account in order to receive your Universal Credit. There is further information on bank accounts for benefit payments on the money advice service website.
Payment and budgeting skills - Universal Credit is only paid monthly, so you must make sure you budget your money so that it lasts your household for the whole month. The welfare reform team can give you advice or you can find online budgeting tools on the money advice service website.
Rent - Direct debit or Standing order - Universal Credit pays your housing costs (rent) directly to you as part of your Universal Credit which means you are responsible for paying that money to your landlord. Setting up a direct debit or standing order to pay your rent is the best way to make sure it is paid on time.
Be aware of sanctions - When you claim Universal Credit you will have to make a claimant commitment. Part of this means you will be put in a group with set activities. If you do not do the activities you will be sanctioned. This means your benefit will be temporarily reduced so you must make sure you do what you have agreed in order to receive your money.
How do I claim Universal Credit?
Universal Credit must be claimed online and you can find out how to claim on the Gov.uk website
Who do I contact in the Council for help with my Universal Credit claim?
The Welfare Reform Team can be contacted by completing the Universal Credit enquiry online form.
Further advice and support for Havering residents
Havering Citizens Advice Bureau run weekly drop-in sessions providing independent, confidential information on a range of issues including debt and benefits. You can also get advice online and find the details, including opening hours and locations at www.haveringcab.org.uk and www.adviceguide.org.uk.
General support and advice
Understanding Universal Credit: This website was specifically design to help you understand what Universal Credit means for you. Find out more on www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk.
GOV.UK: The best place to find government services and information, including benefits, Universal Credit, Tax Credits, Pension credits, Community Legal Advice (CLA) and working, jobs and pensions is www.gov.uk. Information specifically on Universal Credit can be found on www.gov.uk/universal-credit.
Money Advice Service: Set up by the government to provide free, impartial advice about how to budget, deal with debt and manage your money. You can phone 03005005000 or visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.
Turn2us: Provides free services that can help people in financial need to access welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help. Visit www.turn2us.org.uk.
National Debtline: A charity providing free, confidential, debt advice service. Phone 0808 808 4000 or visit www.nationaldebtline.co.uk.
StepChange: One of UK’s leading debt advice agencies. Phone 0800 138 1111 or visit www.stepchange.org.
Christian’s Against Poverty: Their mission is "freeing people from the miserable grip of UK poverty". Visit Havering Grange Centre, Havering Road Romford RM1 4HR or https://capuk.org.
Stop Loan Sharks provides information and advice on loan sharks, visit www.stoploansharks.co.uk or call 0300 555 2222.