Universal Credit – the Government’s new benefit – will be rolled out in Sheffield this month. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
The payment affects working-age people and is gradually being introduced across the country by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). It is expected that from November, 700 claims will be directed to Universal Credit each week in Sheffield.
People making a new benefits claim or with a change in circumstances may be directed to claim Universal Credit.
Benefits claims that may switch to Universal Credit are:
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
Child Tax Credit
Working Tax Credit
At some point, many people currently receiving these benefits will be moved across to Universal Credit.
The Government hasn’t given a date for this rollout, but the DWP will contact people before any changes are made to their benefits or tax credits.
Benefits are currently paid on a weekly or fortnightly basis, in advance. But with Universal Credit, payments are made monthly, in arrears.
This means that many people who are moving over to Universal Credit from their current benefit will not receive any payment for five weeks.
Sheffield Council says this gap in benefit payments will present “significant challenges” for many households.
To minimise the impact on some of the city’s most vulnerable people, organisations across the city are working together to support them through the changes and providing advice on how people can prepare for the changeover.
People will fall in to one of the following three scenarios:
Not receiving one of the benefits above but think you are eligible due to being on a low income or out of work – make a claim for Universal Credit.
If Universal Credit isn’t the right benefit for you, you will be directed to the correct one.
Receiving one of the benefits above and your circumstances change – report the changes as you normally would (this might be to the Job Centre, DWP, HMRC or Sheffield City Council depending on the benefit).
You may be directed to Universal Credit.
Receiving one of the benefits above and your circumstances have stayed the same – you don’t need to do anything now.
The DWP will get in touch with you before there are any changes to your benefits or tax credits.
To apply for and manage a claim for Universal Credit, most people will need a personal email address that is checked regularly, a bank or credit union account and ideally a mobile phone number.
People can apply for Universal Credit using a smart phone, tablet or computer. Support and access to get online is available.
People can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit if they don’t think they’ll have enough money to live on while they wait for their first payment.
This advance payment is a loan that will be automatically taken off future Universal Credit payments, in small amounts until it’s paid back.
Organisations providing advice include the Department for Work and Pensions, Job Centre Plus, Citizens Advice Bureau, Sheffield Council and Money Advice Service.
The DWP Universal Credit helpline is 0800 328 9344 or visit www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk
An information leaflet can be downloaded from Sheffield Council’s website, explaining who may be affected, plus where people can get help applying, getting online and managing their finances www.sheffield.gov.uk/universalcredit