Universal Credit: What you need to know

When Universal Credit goes live everyone who claims benefits will be moved to the new scheme. In anticipation we have put together six top tips for preparing for that move.

 

1.    Start Saving

When you make a claim for Universal credit, you may have to wait up to six weeks before you receive any money.  You can apply for an advance payment, but this will not cover the whole amount, and you will have to pay it back.

 

You need to apply for an advance payment within 21 days of making your universal credit claim.

 

2.    Managing your Money 

When you switch to universal credit, you will get one monthly payment for all benefits.  You can use budget planners to help you work out how much money you’ll have each month and keep track of where you’ll spend it.      

 

The money advice service and shelter both have budget calculators that could help.

 

3.    Get online

The new Universal Credit system is claimed and managed online.  You will need to log in regularly to check your account, read messages and update details.

 

GetOnline@Home offer affordable and internet ready computers if you're in receipt of eligible benefits.  For more information click here.

 

 Internet access and Free-Wi-Fi

If you don’t have a computer at home, you can try accessing one free of charge at:

 

 

All West Sussex libraries have free Wi-Fi, as well as computers with internet access, email services and Microsoft office applications.  For more information click here.

 

If you find technology a bit of a struggle?

There are a number of websites, including Barclays Digital Wings and Digital Unite that provide free and useful “how to” guides and online courses.  These courses are designed to provide easy-to-understand help on getting started or improving your digital skills.

 

4.    Open a bank account

To receive Universal Credit payments, you’ll need a bank or building society account, or a similar account with a provider such as a credit union. Make sure you can pay your rent and other bills from that account. 

 

5.    Making rent payments

  • Under universal credit, payments to help with your rent are paid directly to you and not the landlord.
  • It may be useful to make rent payments via standing order or direct debit – so you have one less thing to worry about.
  • Universal credit does not include council tax reduction.  You can apply for a council tax reduction online here.

 

 6.    How to apply for Universal Credit

  • You need to apply for Universal Credit online.
  • You have to apply as a couple if you and your partner live together. You don’t need to be married.
  • After you apply, you must contact your local Jobcentre Plus within seven days to make an appointment with a work coach.
  • Make sure you have three items of identification, preferably photo ID (passport or driving licence).

 

 

 

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