It’s important to learn and understand what Universal Credit is and how it will affect you and the money you receive. We can help you set up the right payments and get the help you need.
What is Universal Credit and how it can affect you?
Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. It’s paid monthly. How much you receive is means-tested. This means they assess how much you earn from your job (if any) and if you have any savings.
By the end of 2023 Universal Credit will replace:
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Working Tax Credit.
If you’re already on benefits or you are thinking about applying for benefits in the future then it is important you know what this means.
Some people might have even started on Universal Credit. If you find out you are moving to Universal Credit, let us know as soon as you can. We can help you set up the right payments so you have control of your money and get all of the correct help and advice you need so you don’t fall into debt.
Your questions answered as well as some hints and tips to get you started.
You need to be prepared
You will apply and manage any future claims through an online portal so it’s important you are prepared. You need to:
- Set up a bank account. You’ll need a bank account to receive your payment. See our ‘How to open a bank account’ page for a step by step guide.
- Get online and create an email address. You make your claim, check your payments and updates online.
- Prove who you are. You’ll need proof of your identity, for example your driving licence or passport. Watch this video for more help on how to validate who you are: Provide proof of income, if you’re working. You’ll need copies of your payslips.
When you make your claim there are a few things you’ll need from us.
You will need:
- Your full rent, this includes all the charges you need to pay. You need to enter the full rent eligible, not just any Bedroom Tax or other shortfall amount you currently pay yourself. You’ll find the breakdown of charges on your annual rent letter, or online by logging in to your account.
- Full details about your household including the names of tenants who are responsible for paying the rent (called joint tenants) and the number of dependents in the household. You’ll find this on your tenancy agreement.
- The number of rent free weeks, if any, you receive. You’ll find this on your annual rent letter.
You need to pay your rent, and any charges, to us directly
Your payment will include any help you get towards your rent and charges. You need to arrange payments to us directly.
You get a single monthly payment
You’ll need to manage your bills for the whole month. Need help setting a budget and managing your money? Get in touch.
Need to apply for a council tax reduction
You’ll need to contact your local council for this reduction, it’s not part of your Universal Credit claim.
You can apply for an advanced payment
Struggling with your finances waiting for your first payment? You can ask for an advance payment of your Universal Credit. You will need to pay this back from your future payments and pay it back within 12 months.
Check our business address on your tenancy agreement
Check your tenancy agreement shows our correct address: 2 Estuary Boulevard, Estuary Commerce Park, Liverpool L24 8RF, so we can confirm your claim.
Make sure your rent and charges statement is correct
If they show old rent and charges, you might get a lower Universal Credit payment, leaving you out of pocket.
Make sure you let us know about any changes to your household
When you make your claim we have to approve you are our customer and that the details you’ve provided are correct. If anything doesn’t match our system we cannot approve your claim. For example, if you had someone else set up as a joint tenant and they’ve now moved out, we need to know it’s just you on the tenancy. This could result in a delay to your claim, leaving you out of pocket.
When asked ‘do you pay rent’ in your claim
Even if Housing Benefit covered all your rent and charges, you still need to say “Yes”. Otherwise you won’t get these costs covered in your Universal Credit payment.
Get in touch as soon as you know when your first Universal Credit payment is due. It can take up to five weeks to receive your first payment. We can help with any questions about your payment, when to make it or how much it is.
The simple way to pay
Direct Debit – the hassle-free way to pay
We have various ways to pay, just choose the easiest for you.
To help you manage your payments we recommend setting up a Direct Debit to us on the day you receive your payment. It makes payments automatically so you never forget. Once it’s set up it runs itself. And we’ll give you advance notice of any change to your payments.
Smartphone app or pay online
From your armchair, or on the go. You can use a debit or credit card to pay on our website or download the free app from Google Play, App Store or Windows Store. Just search for ‘Allpay’.
When you make a claim you will have to wait five weeks until you get your first Universal Credit payment. Your first payment is to cover the five weeks before you receive it. So you’ll need enough money to cover your costs and bills until then. Each month after that, you’ll get a payment to cover the month up to that date.
If you’re struggling with your payments we can help.
- Use a budget planner. Switching from a weekly to a monthly payment can be difficult. Think about what you spend over the month and plan how you’ll spend and save.
- You may be entitled to a council tax reduction. Contact your local council to apply for a council tax reduction.
- If you are switching from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit, the Department for Work and Pensions will contact your local authority to stop your Housing Benefit payments. At this point you will receive an additional payment of two weeks’ worth of Housing Benefit to support you as you move to Universal Credit.
- You can apply for an advance on your payment. The amount you borrow will be the same as your first estimated Universal Credit monthly payment. You will pay this back a bit at a time from your future payments, usually over a 12 month period. Remember this advance is there to help you manage your costs and make sure rent and charges are paid and you don’t fall into arrears.
- If you are having trouble managing your money whilst on Universal Credit you may be able to use an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APAs). These are changes to the way that Universal Credit is paid that can help you to pay your bills and living costs. Talk to your Work Coach to find out more or contact us for advice and how to apply.
- If changes to your benefits mean you receive less money, you may be able to get extra help towards your housing costs from your local council. These are called discretionary housing payments (DHP). Find out how to apply for a discretionary housing payment.
Struggling to make payments? We want to help you before things get on top of you. Get in touch today and get help. For independent advice, you can contact the National Debtline: 0808 808 4000 www.nationaldebtline.org
Universal Credit is assessed and paid in arrears, on a monthly basis and in a single payment. Your personal circumstances will be assessed to work out the amount you will get.
You will usually receive your first payment five weeks after you’ve made your claim. Universal Credit will then be paid on the same date each month.
When you start work, the amount of Universal Credit you get will gradually reduce as you earn more. But unlike Jobseeker’s Allowance, your payment won’t stop just because you work more than 16 hours a week.
If you’re interested in getting into work please check out our employment and training team, get in touch and see how we can help.