Chapeltown Citizens Advice is helping people get ready for Universal Credit as it rolls out in full across Leeds from 10 October 2018.
Universal Credit is a new benefit which helps people on a low income or not in work meet their living costs. It combines six benefits, including Housing Benefit and Working Tax Credit, into a single monthly payment.
At the moment in Leeds, Universal Credit is only available to single jobseekers but from 10 October 2018 parents, couples and people who can’t work because of their health who make a new claim will also receive it.
Chapeltown Citizens Advice is highlighting what changes are due to take effect, namely around how Universal Credit is claimed and paid, so that people can prepare before applying for the new benefit.
The three changes Chapeltown Citizens Advice says people need to be aware of are :
- Universal Credit payments are made in arrears once at the end of the month, rather than being paid every week.
- Payments will go straight into a claimant’s bank account. This means people may need to set up their own standing orders for expenses like rent if it was paid directly to their landlord under the old Housing Benefit system.
- New Universal Credit applications, and any change in your circumstances, need to be made online.
With most people facing a 6 week wait for their first Universal Credit payment, Chapeltown Citizens Advice is encouraging people to apply for an advance payment if they’re concerned about meeting their living costs in the meantime.
Chapeltown Citizens Advice has already helped people with dozens of Universal Credit problems in the last year, and are expecting this to rise significantly once the new benefit is fully rolled out in October.
Nick Morgan, Chief Executive of Chapeltown Citizens Advice, said:
“Universal Credit is the biggest ever change to the benefit system, so it’s important people get support while they get used to the new system.
Most of the queries we’ve helped with so far have focused on people wanting to know how Universal Credit works and how to apply, and we’d expect that to continue during the full roll out.
We can help people at every stage of the application process – from guiding someone through the online application form, or offering budgeting advice to help people best manage their monthly payment.
Anyone with a question or concern should get in touch with us at the earliest chance so we can help them make preparations for being on Universal Credit.”