What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is now the major benefit for new job-seeking claimants and has started to replace benefits for working age claimants.

What is Universal Credit?uc

Universal Credit is a single means-tested benefit paid to working age claimants. You can receive Universal Credit if you are in work and on a low income, or if you are out of work. It will cover housing costs and day-to-day living costs for you and your family.

Universal Credit will be paid monthly to you on behalf of your household, directly into your bank or building society account. You'll be responsible for managing this money and paying your bills.

Any help you get with your rent will be included with your Universal Credit payment and you'll be responsible for paying your rent to us from this. It is important you are aware of this change as you could lose your home if you don't pay your rent.

How much you get will depend on your personal circumstances. To make work pay, your Universal Credit payment will reduce gradually as you earn more, so you won't lose all your benefits at once if you're on a low income.

When will I be able to claim Universal Credit?

At the moment you'll only receive Universal Credit if you need to make a new job seeker's claim. If you need to make a claim for any of the other six benefits Universal Credit will replace, you'll remain on the old benefits system.

The six benefits that will be replaced by universal Credit are:

  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • Income support
  • Working tax credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • Housing benefit

If you are already claiming, or plan to claim, any of these benefits it's important to find out about Universal Credit and how it will affect you.

New claims will be taken from a gradually wider group of people until 2022, at which point everyone will claim Universal Credit. 

If you already claim one of the affected benefits, you'll continue to do so as normal and you'll be told when Universal Credit will affect you. But it's worth finding out more so you can prepare.

If you are planning to claim to Universal Credit, please contact us so that we can help you with your claim.

You won't be affected by Universal Credit if you and your partner have both reached the qualifying age for pension credit, or if at least one of you has an existing claim to Pension Credit.

How can I prepare for Universal Credit?

There are a number of differences between claiming Universal Credit and the benefits you may be used to receiving. By understanding how Universal Credit works and planning in advance, you can make the move to Universal Credit as easy as possible.

We can offer you help and support to do this.

Paying rent yourself

You can find out how about to pay rent on our how to pay rent link.

You should always let us know if you have any issues that may make it difficult for you to pay your rent, such as debt or addiction. We can provide support and may be able to request that your Universal Credit is paid directly to us to cover your rent.

If you do not pay your rent you could lose your home so it is important you speak to us.

Claiming online

Universal Credit claims will be made online. To help you manage online claims, Incommunities provides free computer skills training for residents aged 18 to 60 who do not have access to computer equipment and the internet, and few IT skills. Find out more on our ICT link.

Getting a bank account

We can help you open a basic bank account and even help by using your tenancy agreement as one of the proofs of id you require.

We have a special arrangement with Barclays who provide a Basic Current Account that offers free, no-frills banking for customers. With this account you can:

  • Choose between a Barclays Visa debit card or cash card (ATM only)
  • Make payments from your Barclays Basic Current Account by Direct Debit or standing order 
  • Withdraw up to £300 a day (if you have available funds) from Barclays ATMs or at Post Offices, or wherever you see the LINK sign
  • Manage your account online, by phone or in branch

Getting into debt and budgeting

We understand that it can sometimes be a challenge to manage your money and make sure you pay all your bills on time.

Drawing up a budget for you and your family is a good way of making sure that everything goes smoothly.

This budget calculator can help you plan your finances and avoid getting into debt.

If you're concerned that you may be struggling to pay your bills or getting into debt, it is very important that you ask for help as soon as possible.

The good news is that there is plenty of help available. As well as Incommunities, Bradford Council fund debt advice services across the District.

There are always options if you act positively and get in touch with the people who are there to help you.