Universal Credit: We spell out what it means
The UK Government is making important changes to the benefits system – and we can help you work your way through them.
The changes, which come into force in May for customers in West Lothian, will apply to the way Universal Credit is paid.
People in Fife, Clackmannanshire and Falkirk have already seen the changes take place, and Edinburgh is due to follow in
Universal Credit – which is for working age people only – was introduced in 2013 to simplify the benefits system.
It’s a single monthly payment that replaced six benefits.
At the moment, Universal Credit is for single-person households only.
After May, you can be moved on to Universal Credit even if you have a partner or children. People who currently claim child tax credits will also be moved on to Universal Credit.
There are other important changes you need to be aware of after May.
- If you move on to Universal Credit, you will need to claim through an online journal. You’ll need access to the
internet to do this. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) can support you if you need help with computers or getting online. Remember, Barony is here to help you too. We can help you get the skills you need to use computers and access
the internet. Our Online Buddies – in partnership with West Lothian Council – can help you get online.
- You will be asked to complete a claimant commitment. That means people claiming Universal Credit need to commit to looking for a job. If you don’t keep to these commitments, the DWP could sanction you – which means you could lose your benefits. Again, Barony can help you look for jobs and training. Talk to your housing officer for more details.
If you’re moved on to Universal Credit, remember your claim will not be backdated before the date you claim it.
So if you lose your job, or you need to start claiming benefits, make sure you put your claim in as quickly as possible. Even if your circumstances change again, it’s easier to cancel a claim that you have started.
Barony’s Head of Housing Alex Lamb said: “These changes to the way benefits are paid are important, but we are on hand to help.
“Tenants who move on to Universal Credit will need access to the internet – and there are lots of ways we can help people get online.
“People will also need to think about budgeting – how to make their money stretch over a month and make sure they cover costs such as rent.
“Our advisors can help people claim everything they’re entitled to and help with budgeting and managing debt. As soon as you know you’re moving on to Universal Credit, let us know – we’re here to help.”
Thursday, May 10, 2018