What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a Social Security benefit administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It has been introduced gradually across the UK from April 2013, and was rolled out to East Dunbartonshire in December 2015. Universal Credit combines the current means-tested support for adults of working age, including those with children, into one benefit. More information is also given in the Universal Credit leaflet in the documents section. This leaflet includes current information about how to get help to make your claim, and how to get advice and support to manage your money or pay your bills and rent.
Which benefits will Universal Credit replace?
Once you’ve claimed Universal Credit, any individual benefits that it replaces will stop and you’ll start getting a single Universal Credit payment instead. Universal Credit will replace:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income-based Employment & Support Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
What about other benefits and other income types?
Universal Credit will not replace:
- Attendance allowance
- Bereavement Benefits
- Carer’s Allowance
- Child Benefit
- Contributory-based Employment and Support Allowance
- Contributory-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Council Tax Reduction
- Disability living allowance
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Maternity Allowance
- Parts of the Social Fund
- Pension Credit
- Personal Independence Payment
- Statutory Maternity Pay
- Statutory Sick Pay
- War Pension
Who will be able to claim?
Anyone of working age, aged 18 or over, including:
- A parent, including a lone parent
- Someone who is ill or disabled
- A carer
- Someone who is unemployed
- Someone who is employed or self employed
Some 16 and 17 year-olds may be able to claim depending on their circumstances.
Universal Credit is available to all people in or out of work, those on low incomes and from 1st February 2019 all families, regardless of the number of children (prior to the 1st February 2019 families with 3 children or more were not eligible to claim Universal Credit.)
Claimants entitled to a Severe Disability Premium are not eligible to claim Universal Credit. Please see link below for information on Severe Disability Premium. https://www.gov.uk/disability-premiums-income-support
To find out more about whether you are eligible to apply for Universal Credit go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/benefits/universal-credit/before-you-apply/Check-if-youre-eligible-for-Universal-Credit/
How can you claim Universal Credit?
The full list of jobcentres where you can claim Universal Credit is listed by the DWP. All working residents if East Dunbartonshire can claim Universal Credit from 5 December 2018 and can make a claim online. If you have any questions then you can also call the Universal Credit full service helpline: 0800 328 5644.
The DWP has published information about how to claim Universal Credit.
If you need help making your claim online you get assistance from the Council’s Customer Service Team at one of the Community Hubs, at your Jobcentre Plus office, or from your local Citizens Advice Bureau. If you just need access to a computer then the Council’s Community Hubs, or your local Jobcentre Plus or library have devices that you may be able to use.
You should also contact the DWP if your circumstances change and you’re already getting Universal Credit. The Department for Work and Pensions want clients to inform them of any changes in their personal, financial or household circumstances straight away and use the online system wherever possible. If your circumstances change and you are also claiming Council Tax Reduction or Discretionary Housing Payments from the Council then it is your responsibility to tell the Council about these changes as and when they happen.
What will happen to existing benefit and Tax Credit claimants once Universal Credit is introduced?
If you haven’t claimed Universal Credit and get one of the benefits or Tax Credits that Universal Credit replaces then you will continue to receive these and don’t have to do anything until the Department for Work and Pensions advises that you have to claim Universal Credit.
If you have a change in your circumstances that means you may have to claim Universal Credit, for example you stop working or your partner moves out, then you will claim when the change happens. If you don’t have any changes in your circumstances then you will be asked to ‘migrate’ to Universal Credit at some point from 2019 until 2023.
How much will you get?
The amount of Universal Credit you will receive will depend on your family circumstances and on other income you have. If you are eligible, a standard allowance will be paid to you and your partner where applicable (couples must make a joint claim). Additional amounts will be paid according to your family circumstances such as amounts for each child, an amount for a carer or housing costs.To get more information about Universal Credit amounts please visit the Department for Work and Pensions website https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/what-youll-get
Universal Credit will be capped at a maximum of £384.62 per week (see the Benefit Cap section for more information). This means that where your family’s circumstances incur a total Universal Credit payment of above £384.62 per week, you will only receive the maximum of £384.62. Any shortfall will be reduced from your housing costs and will have to be met by yourself.
Universal Credit will be administered by the DWP and normally paid directly to claimants (one member of a household) on a monthly basis.
Will housing costs be paid directly to landlords?
Previously, Housing Benefit was paid directly to landlords where claimants’ circumstances allowed this. The introduction of Universal Credit will see housing costs included in Universal Credit and normally paid directly to the claimant. It will be the responsibility of the claimant to pay their rent to their landlord (or lender in the case of a mortgage).
However, Scottish claimants of Universal Credit have the option to request that their housing costs are paid directly to their landlord if they live in a full service area. The request can be made via the claimant’s online account or by calling Universal Credit on 0800 328 5644. More information can be found in the ‘Universal Credit Scottish Choices’ document at the top of this page, or on the Scottish Government website.
If you are having difficulty paying your rent then you should contact your landlord as soon as possible for help and advice. If your Universal Credit payment contains an amount for housing costs then you may also be able to get additional financial assistance from the Council’s Discretionary Housing Payment fund.
For more information about Universal Credit, contact the Citizens Advice Bureau on 0141 775 3220 or the Department for Work and Pensions on 0800 169 0310.