Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new benefit that will replace a range of working age means-tested benefits and tax credits.  It is hoped that bringing the benefits together into a single payment will make claiming simpler.

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Universal credit update

Universal credit is here

Residents of pensionable age will not be affected by these changes.

From February 2015 Universal Credit has been rolled out to new claims from single people (who would otherwise have been eligible for Job Seeker’s Allowance) including those with existing Housing Benefit and Working Tax Credit claims as follows:

now live in the following areas: Taunton Deane, Cornwall Council local authorities and Devon local authority area except for Torbay and Plymouth
from January 2016 for Plymouth and Torbay area. 

Universal Credit is being introduced at first for new claims from single jobseekers but will then be expanded over time to all claimants.
The following benefits will be replaced by Universal Credit:
Income Support
Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
Housing Benefit
Child Tax Credits
Working Tax Credits

Other benefits will stay including: 
Contribution-based Jobseekers Allowance
Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
Child Benefit
Carer’s Allowance
Statutory Sick Pay
Statutory Maternity Pay, Paternity Pay and Maternity Allowance

At first Universal Credit will be for new claims only but eventually existing claimants of means-tested benefits will be moved onto the new system. The Government has said that all claimants will be on Universal Credit by the end of 2017 – except for those in the support group for Employment and Support Allowance.

Universal Credit is different to the current benefit system in a number of ways:
most claims will be made online
it will be one monthly payment paid into your bank account
there will be a cap to the total amount that a claimant can receive. For more details of the benefit cap click here
couples where one has reached the qualifying age for pension credit and one is of working age will have to claim Universal Credit until they have both reached the pension credit qualifying age. A pension age calculator is available here
it will be paid both to claimants in work and out of work 
it will include a housing element, so claimants will be responsible for paying their rent. There will not be an option to ask for the housing element to go directly to your landlord, except in exceptional circumstances 
it will therefore be really important for residents to make arrangements to pay their rent, so that they do not fall into arrears. The easiest way to do this is by setting up a direct debit with your bank, building society or credit union
post office card accounts and some basic bank accounts won’t allow direct debits. If you can’t set up a direct debit from your account, you should think about opening a new account 
as Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, some people might find it difficult to budget and make their money last. Information on budgeting and where to find help can be found here

The main difference for affected residents is that Housing Benefit which previously was paid directly to us, will in future be paid to residents directly.
It will then be residents' responsibility to pay their full rent, including any service charges, directly to us.

If you are affected by these changes please contact the DCH Income team.

Affected residents will probably become aware of any changes to how their benefit is paid to them before we do, but in the meantime, if you have any questions, you should ring the DCH Income team on 0300 123 8080 Find out more here