February 2018 will see the full digital rollout of the Universal Credit in Shropshire. Universal Credit is the Government’s new benefit for people of working age.

From February 2018 single people, couples and families with a change of circumstance or making a new claim to any of the following benefits: Income Support, the income-based elements of Jobseeker’s  or Employment and Support Allowances, Housing Benefit, and the child and working Tax Credits, may be asked to claim Universal Credit instead.

Because Tax Credits are affected, these changes could affect people who are in work, this will mean a greater number of people will be told to make a new claim for Universal Credit.

Changes under Universal Credit

How it may affect you:

  • You will need to be able to get online. New claims for Universal Credit will be made online, and eventually all changes and updates will need to be done through a personal online journal.
  • Universal Credit is paid calendar monthly in arrears, which may be different to the way your current benefits are paid.
  • It may take up to six weeks for the first Universal Credit to come through, and we would encourage you to start thinking about budgeting for this as soon as possible.
  • If your rent is paid by housing benefit at the moment, this will change, instead, it will be included in your Universal Credit payment. This is called housing costs and it is important that you tell them how much your rent is when you make your claim. As rent will not be paid separately to us anymore, it will be your responsibility to pay this over to us.
  • Where this might risk your tenancy, or if you have difficulty budgeting, contact us as we may be able to put in temporary arrangements to pay your rent to us whilst you get help with budgeting.
  • Universal Credit doesn’t just affect you if you are out of work. It incorporates Working Tax Credits which can be claimed if you are in work.
  • Help with mortgage costs under Universal Credit doesn’t start until the claim is three months old, and help with mortgages will only be given if you are not doing any paid work.
  • There are changes if you are self-employed: a minimum income from your business will be assumed when assessing entitlement.
  • There is a £16,000 limit on savings under Universal Credit. This has always applied to out of work benefits, but because Universal Credit replaces the Working Tax Credit this limit on savings will apply to you if you are in work too.
  • Universal Credit makes taking up work much easier because it can carry on when you move into work. You do not have to sign off one benefit and then claim another because you have started work.
  • To get Universal Credit you must sign up to a Claimant Commitment, which is an agreement with Jobcentre Plus in return for the benefit. This might mean agreeing to look for work or better-paid work or taking up an offer of training to improve prospects. What you agree to will depend on your circumstances.
  • These Claimant Commitments are important because, having signed up to one, benefits can be affected by not doing as agreed.

Find out more about the Universal Credit and how you can prepare for it by going to the ‘work and benefits’ tab on the Money Advice website.

For help and advice about budgeting and saving, contact our Financial Support Team on 01743 210207 or 07794 948282.