Universal Credit is a British Government scheme to help unemployed individuals or those on lower incomes with their living costs. Eligible people receive payments every month or twice monthly in some cases in Scotland.
The scheme replaces the following benefits:
- Housing Benefit.
- Child Tax Credit.
- Working Tax Credit.
- Income Support.
- Income-Related ESA (Employment & Support Allowance).
- Income-Based JSA (Jobseeker’s Allowance).
One of the striking features of the scheme is that it is not dependent on the number of children you have. Unemployed or low income residents with no children in the household may also be eligible for Universal Credit.
This article explains what the Universal Credit scheme is, and how eligible individuals should apply.
Applicants must have a valid email address that has been in existence for at least three months. You will also need to provide a mobile phone number, as well as details of your bank, credit union, or building society details. If you do not have one, you should call the Universal Credit helpline.
You will also need to provide the following documents or data:
- Photo identification.
- Details of other members of your family, including your partner and children.
- Your housing details, such as the amount you pay in rent.
- Your income, including payslips.
- Information on all your savings and other investments, including shares you own, property you let, etc.
- If you are applying for financial help with costs related to childcare, you must provide details of your childcare payments.
It is crucial that the information you provide is accurate. Otherwise, when and how much you get paid may be affected.
Opening an account
- When you open an account, you will need to create a username and password.
- You will be asked to include some security questions that other people are not likely to be able to answer.
- Enter your email address and mobile phone numbers.
- Check for the authentication code in the inbox of youre mail address. Enter it and you are ready to have your first Universal Credit payment (if the authorities approve your claim).
How much you will get
Universal Credit payments include a standard allowance plus extra amounts that apply to each individual. Amounts may be higher, for example, for applicants who:
- Have children.
- Have a health condition or disability which prevents them from working.
- Need financial assistance to pay their rent.
- Are currently earning money. Payments may increase or decrease if your circumstances change. Individuals’ circumstances are assessed on a monthly basis.
If you have a job, how much you receive will depend on your salary. The more you earn, the lower your Universal Credit payments will be.
If you are responsible for a young person or child, or you live with with a health condition or disability, you are entitled to a work allowance, i.e., you can earn a specific amount before there is a reduction in your Universal Credit.
If you receive the Severe Disability Premium or are eligible for it, you cannot claim Universal Credit. People who recently received or were entitled to the Severe Disability Premium cannot claim Universal Credit either. Recently, in this context, means in the last month.
If your circumstances change, report it immediately.
The first payment typically takes about five weeks to come through. You can apply for an advance if you need financial help paying your bills before you receive payment.
The five week period consists of a 4-week assessment period plus another week for payment to come through.
Take note of your first payment date, because all subsequent payments will arrive on that date each month. Each month, you will receive a monthly statement with details of your Universal Credit amount. Check it carefully to make sure it is correct.
Started in 2012/2013
Universal Credit was born when the Welfare Reform Act 2012 came into play. In 2013, Jobcentres across the country started rolling out the new benefit. Initially, it focused on new claimants.
In July 2019, of the 2.3 million individuals receiving Universal Credit, sixty-seven percent were unemployed.
The government introduced the scheme to encourage people to find jobs and simplify Britain’s benefits system.
In the new scheme, unemployment payments taper off as individuals move into paid employment, rather than abrupty stopping, thus avoiding the unemployment trap.
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