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Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new benefit that has started to replace six existing benefits with a simpler, single monthly payment if you're out of work or on a low income. Universal Credit will help you to be better off in work, start a new job or work more hours.

Universal Credit will eventually replace:

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit.

Universal Credit is being introduced by the government and will be rolled out in stages.

In May 2016 the full Universal Credit service for all working age new claimants began to roll out nationally (beyond London) and in July 2016 the government announced this roll out will complete by September 2018. For the Poole Jobcentre area, the full Universal Credit service roll out is scheduled for 11 October 2017. The Department for Work and Pensions will be rolling out UC full service for working age new claims in a phased approach using individual postcodes. Please check the Universal Credit application page on GOV.UK to see if your postcode is live with Universal Credit full service.

If you are responsible for 3 or more dependant children you won't be able to make a new Universal Credit claim, unless you are making a re-claim because you were getting Universal Credit within the last 6 months or making a new claim as a single person within one month of a previous joint claim ending, because you are no longer a member of a couple. Otherwise, new working age claimants with more than two children will need to apply for Housing Benefit.

If you live in Supported Exempt/Specified Accommodation as well as claiming Universal Credit you will need to claim Housing Benefit for help with your rent as you will not be entitled to claim the housing element of Universal Credit.

  1. Further information about where you can claim Universal Credit
  2. Information for landlords
  3. Find out if you're ready for Universal Credit.

Help with housing costs

Any help you get with your rent will be included in your Universal Credit payment and as the tenant you are responsible for paying your rent to your landlord. In some circumstances payments can be made direct to the landlord, for example, when there are rent arrears or threat of eviction or you find it difficult to manage payments.

Please check eligibility for benefits at GOV.UK (opens in a new window).

Until full Universal Credit service roll out on 11 October 2017, if your circumstances are such that you do not fit the Universal Credit gateway criteria and you are paying rent and are on a low income, you can apply for housing benefit online or request an application form by contacting the benefits service.

Contact the benefit service on: 0345 034 4569.

Help with Council Tax

Help with Council Tax is not included in your Universal Credit payment. The Department for Work and Pensions will no longer accept a claim for Council Tax Support at the same time as you claim Universal Credit. You must apply for council tax support through the council's Benefits Service, and provide any evidence needed to support your claim. You can apply for council tax support online or request an application by contacting this Benefits Service. You must claim Council Tax Support straight away or you may lose entitlement.

Contact the benefit service on: 0345 034 4569.

Am I eligible?

Existing benefit claimants

If you're already claiming any benefits you don't need to do anything. You'll be told when Universal Credit will affect you.

New benefit claimants

Until full working age Universal Credit service roll out on 11 October 2017, new working age claims to Universal Credit is limited to certain single people who would have made a new claim for Job Seekers Allowance. To claim Universal Credit you must:

  • be of working age and fit for work
  • have no children
  • not be waiting to hear about a claim or an appeal for Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefit, Working Tax Credit to Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit.

Please check eligibility for benefits at GOV.UK (opens in a new window)

How to claim

Apply online via the Universal Credit Portal (opens in a new window)

Getting online

You'll be expected to claim Universal Credit online. This means you'll need to be able to use the internet.

If you don't know how to use a computer or the internet, you can learn how by taking a beginners course at a UK Online centre. To find a centre near you, visit UK Online Centres (opens in a new window) or phone 0800 77 1234.

If you can use a computer a little but aren't confident using the internet, try the Online Basics course on Learn My Way (opens in a new window) You can do this free course online straight away.

If you don't have access to a computer or the internet, you can access computers in libraries across Dorset and Poole. Free wifi is usually available at these access points. You may also use one of the following Local Council Offices: Civic Centre, Borough of Poole; Civic Offices, Christchurch; Nordon, North Dorset District Council and Gillingham Direct, Gillingham Town Council. 

To find out when your nearest library is open call your Local Council or view the information online at: Poole libraries - computers and internet access and Dorset library locations and opening hours (opens in a new window) 

If you're concerned about internet security, go to the Get Safe Online (opens in a new window) website for information and advice.

Payments

Universal Credit will be paid monthly to one person in the household. In some cases, the Department of Work and Pensions may split payments (e.g. if your partner's spending has caused money problems). You can get full details on GOV.UK (opens in a new window)

Help with rent will be included with your Universal Credit payment so you can pay your landlord.

Need help and support with your claim?

Your local Job Centre Plus (opens in a new window) will be able to advise you on Universal Credit payments. If you find it difficult to manage this new monthly payment please speak with your work coach for personal budgeting support. 

If you need financial help before your Universal Credit payment is due and meet certain conditions, you can ask for an advanced payment. Please note that future payments will be reduced to pay for this advance.

Free and impartial money advice (opens in a new window) has been set up by government.

Universal Credit Helpline: 0345 600 0723

New budgeting support for Universal Credit claimants

The Money Advice Services' online money manager is an interactive tool which offers personalised advice on making the most of your money whilst you're on Universal Credit. It offers help and advice on a range of money topics, including opening a bank account, keeping on top of bills and dealing with debt.

The online service includes:

  • step by step questions that signpost users to financial guidance and support relevant to their personal circumstances
  • hints and tips for managing money and paying bills from a monthly payment
  • signposting to further support, such as advance payments and free debt advice.