The current system of benefits and tax credits for working-age customers means that you usually have to make separate claims for each one. So some existing benefits are gradually being replaced by one new benefit called Universal Credit that will be administered by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP).

Customers claiming Universal Credit will find the process easier if they have already verified their identity .

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people who are both in and out of work and on a low income. It combines some of the benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now and will replace:

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment & Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit for most working age customers

Universal credit does not affect pensioners.

An introductory guide explaining what Universal Credit could mean for you has been produced by the Department for Work & Pensions.

This short video will help you to learn more about Universal Credit how is works and what it will mean for you.

At present, in the Chichester district Universal Credit only affects single people without responsibility for children who have recently become unemployed. Roll out of the Universal Credit for most working age claimants who have a change to one of the included benefits will follow the schedule found under Am I eligible?

If you're already claiming the Benefits that will be combined into Universal Credit you don't need to do anything. The DWP will contact you when Universal Credit will affect you.

Am I eligible?

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages and whether you can claim depends on where you live and your personal circumstances.

It has already been introduced in the Chichester district for single people, which is known as 'Live Service'.

However, it is being introduced for all working age customers making a new claim in the following postcode areas:

PostcodeDate
  

RH14 0 

from 6 June 2018

RH20 1

from 6 June 2018
GU28 0

from 4 July 2018

GU28 8  

from 4 July 2018

GU28 9  

from 4 July 2018

GU29 0

from 4 July 2018

GU29 1

from 4 July 2018

GU29 9

from 4 July 2018

PO18 0

from 4 July 2018

PO18 8

from 4 July 2018

PO18 9

from 4 July 2018

PO19 1

from 4 July 2018

PO19 3

from 4 July 2018

PO19 5

from 4 July 2018
PO19 6

from 4 July 2018

PO19 7

from 4 July 2018

PO19 8

from 4 July 2018

PO19 9

from 4 July 2018

PO20 0

from 4 July 2018

PO20 1

from 4 July 2018

PO20 2

from 4 July 2018

PO20 3

from 4 July 2018

PO20 4

from 4 July 2018

PO20 7

from 4 July 2018

PO20 8

from 4 July 2018

PO20 9

from 4 July 2018

BN18 0

from 4 July 2018

PO10 8

from 4 July 2018

GU8 4

from 24 October 2018

GU27 2

from 24 October 2018

GU27 3

from 24 October 2018

GU30 7

from 24 October 2018

 

The introduction of claims for all working age customers is known as ' Full Service '

If you're already claiming the Benefits that will be combined into Universal Credit you don't need to do anything. The DWP will contact you when Universal Credit will affect you.

You can get an estimate of the amount of Universal Credit that you may be entitled to by using the Benefits Calculator

If you live with your partner, you'll usually need to apply together.

Start of entitlement and payments

 

Universal Credit is paid monthly into a bank account of your choice to one person in the household . It can also be paid to another organisation like a Credit Union.

When you make a new claim you will generally not be paid for the first seven days which are known as 'waiting days'. However, you should not let this delay making your claim and you should apply as soon as you are eligible to do so.

The waiting days don't apply in certain circumstances (e.g. if you're terminally ill or vulnerable, have previously claimed Universal Credit, are splitting up from or moving in with somebody who is already a Universal Credit claimant, or are moving on to it from another benefit).

The amount you get depends on your circumstances including:

  • Your income
  • Your savings
  • How many children you have

Currently  it is likely take at least 5 or 6 weeks before you get your first payment, but you can ask for an advanced payment

If your application is successful you'll be contacted by the DWP to arrange an interview at a Job Centre to complete your application. This is sometimes called a 'work search interview' or a 'claimant commitment interview' and you'll be seen by a member of staff who'll become your 'work coach'.

You'll meet your work coach regularly so that they can support you and help you find a job. The purpose of the interview is to:

  • Check you are who you say you are
  • Help you understand how Universal Credit works and what will happen next
  • Come up with a plan to improve your work situation, e.g. to get training or find a job
  • Arrange what you have to do in return for getting Universal Credit, e.g. how many hours you need to spend looking for work each week. This is called a 'claimant commitment' and you'll have to sign it
  • Find out whether you need any support with budgeting

The interview isn't an interrogation and you're not on trial - it's a two-way conversation between you and your work coach.

Once you have submitted your claim you will be provided with details of the documents that you'll need to take with you to the interview to prove that the details in your application are correct. These will be copied and given back to you.

Help with rent and council tax

If you would have previously needed help with your rent by claiming Housing Benefit from the Council, this will now be included in your monthly Universal Credit payment that's calculated by the DWP and is known as the 'Housing Costs Element'.

From 1 April 2017 some customers aged 18 to 21 will not be entitled to the 'Housing Costs Element' of Universal Credit. Further information is available here Housing Costs for 18-21 Year Olds

The rules for Housing Benefit mean that some customers have their payments sent directly to their landlord. However, under the rules for Universal Credit most customers will have the Housing Costs Element paid to themselves which means that as a tenant you'll be responsible for using this money to pay your rent to your landlord.

In some circumstances the Housing Costs Element can be made directly to your landlord, for example if you have rent arrears, are under threat of eviction or you find it difficult to manage payments.

Help with Council Tax is not included in Universal Credit and you will still need to make a claim for Council Tax Reduction with the Council's Revenues & Benefits Service.

Information for landlords

The move to tenants receiving monthly household payments that include the Housing Costs Element of Universal Credit is a significant change compared to the separate Housing Benefit payments that have previously been paid.

As a consequence, Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs) have been introduced to provide extra help for tenants:

  • Where there's a risk of financial harm to the claimant or their family; or
  • In order to safeguard the claimant's home

APAs can be considered at any point during the life of a Universal Credit claim and can be requested by the claimant, their representative or the landlord. An APA can be made when:

  • A claimant has rent arrears totaling at least two month's rent
  • A claimant has continually underpaid their rent over a period of time and they currently have at least one month of arrears

Most landlords must request an APA by completing a 'UC47 None-secure' form . Completed forms should be emailed to Universalcredithousing.aparequests@dwp.gsi.gov.uk. Once the form is received the DWP will contact the landlord to obtain the relevant payment details

Other information about what Universal Credit means for both private landlords and housing associations is available under Universal Credit and rented housing .

Further help and advice

The Planning Tool Getting ready for Universal Credit provided by the DWP can help you to prepare for making a claim for Universal Credit. By providing answers to some basic questions it will tell you how ready you are for Universal Credit and will give advice about what you need to do next and the best sources of advice that are available.

You can contact the Freephone Universal Credit helpline from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday using the number below:

  • 0800 328 5644 - Calls to this number are free

Getting help and advice can make all the difference to managing your money. The councils are working with the DWP and other organisations, including, Arun & Chichester Citizens Advice to make sure that you have access to the right support when you need it.

The following short video is about Universal Credit and managing your money.



 

Internet access

Internet access and improving your computer skills support is available at your local Jobcentre .

Public PC's are available at our main office at East Pallant House and in the Selsey Town Council Offices. You can request  help and assistance to make your claim on-line at East Pallant House. Contact us at benefits@chichester.gov.uk or by or telephone the Benefits team on 01243 534509 to make an appointment.

All West Sussex Libraries have free public PCs which can be used for up to 2 hours a day, including those within the Chichester district. To use the PCs residents need to join the library, ideally with proof of name and address. Membership is free.

All libraries also have free wifi - and you do not need to be a member to use this. Therefore enabling you to make or update your claim for Universal Credit even if you do not have wi-fi or a pc at home.

Contact your local library if you wish to use one of our computers, as some operate a booking system.

Get an advance on your first payment

You can request an advance payment during the time your application is processed (normally 5 weeks). Advanced Payments can be paid within 3 days to cover up to 100% of your total Universal Credit. The advance is a loan the can be paid back over a 12-month period. You can apply for an advance payment from the Jobcentre at the interview or via the Gov.uk - Universal Credit helpline  .

 

Discretionary housing payments

The Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) scheme helps people who are getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit but because of their circumstances need extra help with their rent. DHPs are payments to help people with their housing costs and are only awarded to individuals with exceptional financial circumstances.

The DHP fund has a limited budget and DHPs are awarded as a short term measure to help claimants in difficult circumstance.

Generally housing costs means rental liability; however housing costs can be interpreted more widely to include, rent in advance, deposits and other lump sum costs associated with housing need such as removal costs. These payments are made in addition to Housing Benefit or Universal Credit and you must be getting Housing Benefit or Universal Credit in order to receive a DHP. The DHP fund is limited, and if the limit of the fund is reached all awards will be withdrawn.

Apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment