The UK Government is phasing in universal credit between 2013 and 2019. It will be administered by the Department for Work & Pensions and will replace six of the main means-tested benefits and tax credits.
Universal credit is intended to help people to become more independent. It should simplify the benefits system by paying a range of working-age benefits together as one single payment. It will be paid monthly, in arrears, to one person in the household.
Universal credit will replace these "Legacy Benefits":
- income-based jobseeker's allowance
- income-related employment and support allowance
- income support
- child tax credits
- working tax credits
- housing benefit
UC will be paid as a single monthly payment into your chosen bank account. Couples who are both eligible will have to decide who will receive the payment.
If you do not have a bank account or another type of account which accepts UC payments, you should ask an advice agency for more information about this.
Access to a computer and internet will be necessary as the majority of claims will require to be made and maintained online. If you want to find out where you can access public computers click here to get details of where to find these in your local area.
Any payment towards housing costs (previously Housing Benefit) will be included in your UC monthly payment. You will be responsible for paying rent to your landlord, Housing Association, or Local Council.
You can get UC if you have a low income, whether you are in or out of work. There are no limits to the number of hours you can work each week. Your Universal Credit payment will reduce gradually as you earn more - you won’t lose all your benefits at once if you’re on a low income. How much you’ll receive depends on your personal circumstances
Universal Credit is for working age people, it started in Dundee on 2 November 2015, for new claims only and was restricted to single people without children, however in November 2017 this will expand to include all new claims, including couples and families. However for an interim period, those with three or more children are not able to make a new claim for Universal Credit. They will be advised to claim instead any of the six 'legacy benefits' that Universal Credit is replacing. In November 2018 this will change and Universal Credit claims will be taken from people with three or more children, except they will only get an amount for up to two children. There are exceptions to this, for example the government will exempt children born due to multiple births and children living long term with friends or family under proven formal or informal arrangements.
Eventually everyone who currently receives one of the benefits listed above, will be transferred to Universal Credit. It is not known when this will happen, however is expected to be around 2019/22. You will be contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) when the time comes and transferred over to this new benefit. This website will be updated once more information is received. s on your personal circumstances.
How to get ready for these changes:
- Find out how the changes will affect you and start to plan for them now.
- Open a bank account that allows you to pay bills and your rent by direct debit / standing order. Consider specialist banking support such as a credit union.
- Try saving a small amount every week. Credit unions and banks provide a safe and convenient place to save your money.
- Seek advice about managing your money. If you are already finding it difficult to pay debts, contact the council's Welfare Rights service, the CONNECT team or the Citizens Advice Bureau. (see further information)
- Begin to budget now. Keep a budget that records what things cost, like your weekly food shopping, electricity bills and rent.
- Seek employment advice (you can get support from Job Centre Plus and there are many job clubs held at community centre's and other venues throughout the city that can help and support you in your job search).
- Claims for Universal Credit (UC) will have to be made and maintained on line in the majority of cases. If you don't have access to a computer, there are many computers available at your local library. If you do not know how to use a computer or do not feel confident using a computer, there are classes around the city where you can get tuition and support, most are free for those on Job seekers Allowance (JSA), Employment support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit. Contact an Advice Agency, they will help arrange for you to attend a course or click here to find out more.
- If you find it difficult to read and write or understand numbers, or English is not your first language and you want to learn more, there are courses that can help you, most of these are free for those on certain benefits and low income. click here to find out more.Or contact an Advice Agency, they can help arrange classes for you.
- If you are considering moving house, contact your landlord to discuss your housing options.
- For online information about Universal Credit visit the Gov.uk website and Money Advice Service website
- DWP have created some videos to provide information about Universal Credit full service https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7Km4IXfVJB1n8SQUmkJD0Q