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Six ways to get ready for Universal Credit

Today sees Swansea and two other districts begin offering Universal Credit to some people, bringing the new benefits scheme to half of Jobcentres across the country. Eventually everyone who claims key benefits will be moved onto the new scheme – and there are ways to be prepared.

It's a big change to how people will apply for and claim benefits. Though to start only new single claimants looking for work will receive Universal Credit (UC), eventually everyone will be moved onto the new system.

Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit and Income support are among the six benefits that will be replaced with UC’s one single monthly payment. The others affected are Child and Working Tax Credits and income related Employment and Support Allowance.

Roll out is gradual, but as more people become affected, we’ve six ways you can be ready for when the changes start.

1. Find out when Universal Credit is happening in your area

Simply enter your postcode on this government UC website and it will pinpoint on a map your local Jobcentres. You'll be able to see if it has already started processing UC, or when it's scheduled to begin.

2. Open a bank account to receive your benefits

To receive Universal Credit payments, you will need a bank or building society account, or a similar account with a provider such as a credit union.

However, not all accounts are suitable as you need to be able to receive payments and set up Direct Debits and standing orders. Automated payments like these will make it a lot easier for you to pay things like rent and bills.

Accounts that don’t do this include Post Office card accounts and some credit union or prepaid card accounts. If yours can’t, you should open a basic bank account, or find a different provider.

3. Decide whether you need a joint account

If you live with your partner, and you’re both eligible for Universal Credit, you’ll get a single monthly payment into one account.

A joint account would mean you both have access to the money, but there are reasons it might not be right for you.

4. Know how to manage your rent payments

If you’re getting support with your rent, payments will be made directly to you and not your landlord. Make sure your rent money is protected.

You can ask your landlord to set your payment date for just after your Universal Credit payment comes in and then set up a direct debit so that the money goes out straightaway. That way, you won’t be tempted into dip into the money before the rent is due.

5. Start a budget

Because Universal Credit is paid monthly, you may need to make changes to the way you plan and spend, especially when you move from the old to the new system.

 

6. Get online      

The new Universal Credit system is mainly online - from applying to managing your account.

If you need help getting online, your Jobcentre Plus or local council can help you to find a course. Most Job Centre Plus offices also have computers which are free to use.

 

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  • karen higgs / 15 December 2016

    i have been stopped from claiming ESA, also told to claim Universal Credit yesterday, unfortunately i live in the wrong area,so apart from waiting for a letter from ESA, and having to make a mandatory re-consideration about my claim, 1 1/2 wks before christmas with no money coming into our house, who do i turn to now for help about which benefit i should be claiming?

  • Björn / 12 June 2016

    Kredit på casino

  • sharon perkin / 17 August 2015

    Briliant website however i come under working poor i am on a 20hour contract with morrisons supermarket and very rarely have any overtime my wage is £151 32 per week all though we get paid every four weeks i am not entitled to any help through the benefits system so i buy a yearly card for my asthma prescriptions but i cannot afford the dentist or the opticians will i be able to claim universal credit.

  • Lisa / 15 August 2015

    I get ESA I get paid every 2 weeks I'm disabled I'm not even fit for work

  • Lisa / 15 August 2015

    I get ESA I get paid every 2 weeks I'm disabled I'm not even fit for work

  • Andrew Cruickshank / 12 August 2015

    Sounds like a good idea to save money on numerous applications and payments, but I am concerned that some people may not have access or knowledge of the internet so may lose out because the process seems too daunting.

  • MIKE S / 11 August 2015

    THE CONTINUATION OF THIS INEPT SYSTEM AND SCHEME AND IT BEING "ROLLED OUT FURTHER" ,despite the glitches and gremlins that all such ill conceived GOVERNMENT I.T. Schemes have experienced and illustrated, SHOWS THE RAMPANT STUPIDITY SO PREVAILENT IN THE SENIOR ECHELONS OF THE CIVL SERVICE
    AND " THE NASTY PARTY "
    THIS WILL CAUSE CHAOS and SUICIDAL DESPAIR for the less capable and ILL educated HAPLESS and confused members of OUR SOCIETY

  • Mrshakeupthesystem / 10 August 2015

    I think that benefits shouldn't be allowed , they should get whatever help they get for rent & coucil tax paid straight to the landlord & the council & they should get vouchers for food , collect stamps for gas , electric , water & tv licence by using vouchers , they shouldn't be allowed any money , I work 60 hours a week & some of these scrougers get more than i get

  • Gail Lee / 10 August 2015

    I believe things should be left as they are - individual benefits. If it changes over, there will be even more "benefit loss" related suicides & deaths, as people who have been used to weekly or fortnightly pay, will struggle to adjust and manage their money. All they are trying to do is penny pinch, putting financial gain, over human life & worth.

  • Alan Hearn / 10 August 2015

    We are both disabled & have, at times, had trouble staying online. Between our mobility problems & the parking near our local Jobcentre being abysmal/impossible even with a Blue Badge, a computer there - free to use or not - ain't a great deal of help to us!

  • susan hay / 9 August 2015

    I hope this doesn't mean we get less in benefits, if it's going to be just one payment. What are proposed figures. We need to have this printed/published somewhere. Some guidelines as to how much we are going to get. I am on both HB and WTC...how will it affect me?

  • Paul Dreese / 9 August 2015

    I do not think that it is good practice to pay rent money to claimants directly. The problem is that with so many demands on people money's that there is risk that they will put he rent money to other uses. Thus putting themselves and possibly families of being evicted for none payment of rent.

  • Tiggy / 9 August 2015

    One of our largest local housing associations is expecting people to pay their rent in advance once UC comes in, when their Housing Benefit is only paid in arrears. I had th is problem myself as a privately renting tenant and only managed to cope because the CAB got a charity to fund the gap so I was not constantly trying to catch up. I don't see how all the social housing tenants are going to be able to magic a month's rent from nowhere. I get my rent money paid direct to my landlord by the Council. I hope I will still be allowed to have that done as I have a learning difficulty when it comes to anything to do with numbers and with that and depression as well, I can't manage that side of my money for myself.

  • Jim Crawford / 9 August 2015

    Given the serious levels of known hacking of well known companies, including those involved with financial details of millions of customers, to set UC up based on web access is plain stupid. Who is to fund the security levels needed to protect claimants from hacking of their details? It only need take a cursory look at the level of the DWP budget to understand the attractiveness to would be hackers of attacking the DWP's system. Once again the government have not thought things through sufficiently before embarking on another glorious failure, of course in due course we will all be hearing that well known expression of embarrassment, ''Lessons will be learnt'' and as usual they will come after the event.

  • Paolo / 9 August 2015

    It is horrendous...living fortnightly is difficult enough...it will see more people on the streets homeless...Just another sick Duncan-Smith plot .

  • Nadeem / 28 July 2015

    Hi I am lone father with two daughters and getting full benefits I am trying to do a degree so I will get the grant does it effect my any benefit thank

  • craig cowley / 21 July 2015

    I need wake up

  • leanne / 20 July 2015

    Its ok going on a course to help you get online but when you do not have a computer at home and you cant afford the bus fare to the library it is very hard to keep track of everything. You also dont have enough money to pay for broadband. So unfair and more stress as well as the jobhunting.