UNIVERSAL CREDIT - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a new benefit for working age claimants created to replace the following welfare benefits (known as ‘legacy benefits’):
Working Tax Credit
Child Tax Credit
Housing Benefit - for working age claimants only
Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
From Sept 26th 2018 any working age claimant living in Chiltern who is making a new application for income-based benefits will need to apply for Universal Credit.
Can I get help to apply?
Citizens Advice Chiltern can support you to make a new claim for Universal Credit, from opening your account to receiving your first full payment. Our trained advisers can help you to:
- set up your Universal Credit account
- complete your claim to-do list
- verify your identity
- make sure you're providing the right evidence to the Jobcentre
- understand what Universal Credit will mean for you
If you are not sure what help you need just get in touch on 01 494 545991 and we can work out how we can support you
Or call: Freephone 0800 144 8 444
What will happen to me if I am already getting one of the affected benefits?
If you are already on one of the benefits listed above you will not have to change onto Universal Credit at the moment. However, eventually the government plans to move all working age claimants onto Universal Credit. This will not happen until at least 2019, and everyone affected will be contacted beforehand.
However – if your circumstances change you may be told to apply for Universal Credit. If you think your circumstances are going to change you may want to discuss your next step with one of our advisers.
Will I get less money on Universal Credit?
It is important that you understand whether you will be better or worse off applying for Universal Credit or remaining on any legacy benefits that you already receive. You can check this by using an online benefit calculator like Turn 2 Us https://benefits-calculator.turn2us.org.uk?AboutYou or by making an appointment with us to talk to an adviser about this.
What happens when I apply?
If you currently receive any of the legacy benefits, they will stop automatically once you have applied for Universal Credit, except for Housing Benefit, which will continue to be paid for two weeks. If your housing benefit goes directly to your landlord, this will continue to happen for those two weeks. There will be a five week delay before you receive your first Universal Credit payment, which will then be paid monthly.
Can I get help while waiting for my first payment?
You can apply for an Advance Payment of Universal Credit when you have your Universal Credit interview or by calling the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 3285644 open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday. You can also apply via your online account – there is an optional section entitled ‘apply for an advance. ’The Advance Payment is an interest-free loan and repayments will be automatically deducted from your Universal Credit payments until you have fully repaid the loan – probably over a 12 month period.
You may want to speak to your landlord if you are worried about missing a rent payment.
What about Council Tax Support?
Chiltern District Council says that if you are already on Council Tax support you do not need to do anything when you make your UC claim. If you need to claim Council Tax Support for the first time, please start your claim via the council website http://www.chiltern.gov.uk/ on the same day as you start your UC claim whenever possible.
How do I claim?
Most people make their Universal Credit claim online at www.gov.uk/universal-credit/how-to-claim
You can contact the Universal Helpline on 0800 3285644 if you have queries about applying, need information in large print, braille or audio CD or need help finding or using a computer to make a claim, or drop in to our Chesham office.
Once I am on Universal Credit, can I ever go back to legacy benefits?
No – once you have applied for Universal Credit you cannot go back to the old system
How can I find out more information?
Detailed information about claiming including a checklist of documents you will need before you start can be found on our website:
Where can I get free access to wifi or a PC to make an online application?
Citizens Advice Chiltern, local libraries, the Chesham Jobcentreplus and the district council buildings in Amersham all offer free access to wifi and PCs are available for public use.