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Universal Credit is on its way - our top tips to get ready

If you’re on a low income and receiving benefits, Universal Credit will mean a big change to how you receive the money, which means you may need help managing and keeping track of your cash.  

The national rollout of Universal Credit begins this week and sees many of the current benefits and tax credits replaced by a single monthly payment.  Anyone receiving Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and Housing Benefit will gradually be moved onto the new system.

There will be other changes too. For example, if housing benefit was paid directly to a landlord, it’ll now be down to the tenant to pay the rent. Remember, paying rent should be a top priority to avoid losing your home.

Anyone receiving Universal Credit will have a lot more money in their account at the start of the month than they’re used to, so managing this single sum might take some adjusting to.

We asked Nick Hill, one of our resident money experts, for his top tips to help people manage the move on to monthly benefit payments:

1. Keep a spending diary

Note down all money coming in and every payment going out (such as rent/mortgage, and living expenses etc) to see exactly what you are spending and keep track of your cash.

2. Plan your monthly budget

Because Universal Credit is paid monthly you may need to make changes to the way you budget to avoid running out of money before the end of the month.

 

3. Open a bank account

Since Universal Credit will be paid monthly straight into your account to receive your payments you’ll need a bank/building society account, or a different banking service like a prepaid card or a credit union account. 

If you live with your partner, and you’re both eligible for Universal Credit, you’ll get a single monthly payment for the both of you. This can be paid into either a joint or an individual account.

4. Set up automated bill payments

Using Direct Debits or standing orders to automatically pay for rent and energy bills is a safe and efficient way to pay these bills straight away. 

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  • Anthony / 12 September 2016

    Some people may manage ok with universal credit, Others will need help via a support worker if they have medical issues.

  • Danielle bryant / 13 June 2016

    I been on Uc for 3 months now every time I'm meant to get paid on 13 each month it never happens even though got letter to say it meant to go in they have right details this time last time due to name change which I didn't do why does this keep happening and can I complain

  • James Law / 29 August 2015

    iv recieved half of my benifit on 16august waiting for the rent payment should of got it by now has it bin sent?

  • Stephen Robinson / 7 August 2015

    I applied for Universal Credit on 28/5. Should of received my first payment on 4/7 , didn't. Should of received my next payment on 4/8 , haven't. I have rang their helpline approx 6 times, which is costly from a mobile, still not sorted. Should have received a faster payment today, hasn't happened. Not happy. Anyone else had similar problems. Also no communications from them i.e. Letters.

  • yaz / 4 August 2015

    At the start do we only have 2 weeks money that has to last 5 weeks

  • yaz / 4 August 2015

    At the start do we only have 2 weeks money that has to last 5 weeks

  • HFCGJOKVF / 3 April 2015

    IM FROM SCOTLAND,AND ITS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT WORLD.
    TO PARLIMENT WE ARE THERE ILAST TRAIN OF THOUGHT.we are treated like craps.

  • stuart bowen / 21 March 2015

    Budget planner link not working from this page.

    -------------------------------------

    ADMIN: Thanks Stuart, that has been fixed

  • ellen nixon / 14 March 2015

    I work as a money and debt adviser for a charity and worry how this will impact on the people of Northern Ireland - not everyone is able to budget monthly

  • mrs b wale / 14 March 2015

    What happens if you set up the direct debit and it isn't paid because your money hasn't gone into the bank who pays the charges

  • J. P. / 12 March 2015

    I work with homeless people who are 2nd or 3rd generation homeless & their idea of budget is money in their needs to be spent on whatever they want - rent, council tax, bills & food don't come into their realm of thinking. Cutbacks mean there aren't enough people to provide advice/support - unless you've worked with people as described you cannot imagine the problems that are anticipated.

  • debbie lee dyer / 11 March 2015

    I am in debt due to previous alcohol problems and isolation. I have been referred to Christians Against Poverty. And feel that vulnerable people should be sign posted to organisations who can help them to budget. like the one I have mentioned above.

  • Joanne Lewis / 10 March 2015

    Switching from several payments to one big payment is going to be tricky. I'd recommend www.capmoney.org to anyone who wants to build a monthly budget. They've helped me enormously - and I'm far from religious, by the way. An important thing to remember is that once your main bills are paid out, divide the rest by 4.3 so that you've enough money left when there's a 5-week month, as that can really trip you up.

  • John Stewart / 10 March 2015

    I would be very interested in joining the universal credit and would appreciate if you could please explain to me how this can happen. Thank you very much, sincerely, John Stewart.

  • Mr Thomas / 9 March 2015

    I don't think it is fair that social housing tenants who claim Housing Benefit will get their money to pay their landlord directly..
    But people with a mortgage get the DWP to pay a percentage of their mortgage (usually the interest) direct to their lender..
    For this to be as fair as possible then people who have a mortgage should get all their benefits they are entitled to.. then it is up to them to pay their mortgage provider all they owe directly..
    Because I have a mortgage and the DWP pay a percentage of the monthly payment due direct to my lender and I am always at a loss to know how much my share of the payment should be.. the DWP have their own percentage rate, as do the lender and then there is the Bank of England rate too.. I am never told in time when these rates change.. only when I am not paying enough of my share do they bother me.. but they never return any over payments. I am disabled and vulnerable and these people are making horrendous amounts of interest out of me all the time.. no one seems to care or answer my letters to them.. and all this is repeated when it comes to paying my service charge account.. the same thing happens.. it is totally diabolical..

  • Anne Morgan / 9 March 2015

    Is n.ireland encluded in this

  • Louise / 9 March 2015

    Can I arrange to have my rent paid by direct debit from my bank account when it changes? Only thing is that because they pay late in arrears, things might start going wrong.

    Can you advise please as I have learning difficulties and get confused by money.

  • Mr J Wilson & Mrs P AWilson / 9 March 2015

    My wife & I [we are 86 & 87 respectively]currently receive one payment per month to cover both our disabillities, which we understand has an care element in the figure,and we also receive the fuel allowance and we also receive a discounted council tax charge. With regard to the council tax is there any change in how this will be handled.

  • Peter Wilson / 9 March 2015

    I am disabled and have been looking forward to getting all my benefits in one hit. The day the cash goes into your account pay every bill, whatever is left divide by four that is what you have each week for shopping quite simple really, also bulk buying works out cheaper. My only concern is how do we get by for those first four weeks I doubt that we will be getting paid in advance

  • john kavanagh / 9 March 2015

    When i calculate how much they pay me over 52 wks will they divide that total into 12 monthly payments? Because if they dont we are gonna be a lot worst off based on more than 4 wks in a month !!!

  • Eddie Tate / 8 March 2015

    Getting your money monthly would be just the same as if you work. You get payed monthly then. The best way is to split it in half and only spend that amount in a two weeks. It will teach some people to learn how to budget when they get a job. Down side to this is the rent not going straight to the landlord. People on low income can lose their home so easily once they start dipping in to the rent money in their account.

  • Margie Arts / 8 March 2015

    Back, once again to the presumption that everyone can become computer literate. When you are on a limited income the cost of your own link with the web or of travel to a source like the local library can be hard to meet. A veritable Catch 22 puzzle. The comment 'at the start of the month there could be a large amount in your bank account'. Buy to let landlords will be hard hit when their tenants dip into the 'rent money' to cover unexpected bills.

  • Louise / 8 March 2015

    Absolutely dreading this change. I suffer with mental health issues and have always struggled with budgeting so this is going to be a nightmare for me.

  • Sharon Phillips / 8 March 2015

    I suffer with bi polar and one of the symptoms is when I'm on a high I can overspend so this is going to be difficult to maintain, I also have a young daughter who I support and I am worried about how I'm going to pay bills and feed her if I have to wait weeks for money.

  • eve ward / 8 March 2015

    i dont like this idea at all.now that people have to work longer.its going to be complicated for those who are sixtey and over who are on job seekers.haveing a seperate account for me would help.its a mine field now to remember everything

  • yummymummy / 8 March 2015

    I wonder if people realise that under UC people will have to satisfy a lot of endless rules and take part in regular interviews in job centres in order to qualify for UC, even if they are working part time, full time or self employed(if they are on a low wage), and they will be expected to take part in activities every week and prove that they are looking for higher paid work, I don't know how people will find the time to take part in lots of job seeking activities and job centre trips on top of working and caring for children and elderly parents. If they do not satisfy all rules they will be sanctioned, we are talking about hard working people who just happen to be earning a low wage.

  • fkjn eoihv kjd pj ejejej / 8 March 2015

    I think it will have good and bad points... Pros - When people start to get evicted more houses will be available for those who are responsible. Cons - Landlords suffer as the cost to evict someone is high especially when they have to wait 2 months before they can commence the process. People who are unhappy, moaning and complaining about the change I don't see why, you still get your the benefits money paid of the exact equal amount it just saves the tax payer additional funds. With the welfare bill ever rising this is a welcomed contribution the claimants can make to reduce costs. I realise that some maybe unhappy with my comment however, I believe there are some people who need to claim and I fully support those claimants and then there are others that don't but do as it's an 'easier' life.

  • yummymummy / 8 March 2015

    Some good things about this is the level playing field. At least single mothers such as those who have had to leave violent partners through no fault of their own will now be treated the same as other mothers. All mother's will now have to find longer hours at work before their children may be ready to be left. Childcare is not available in all areas and on that scale. Nor is childcare always available in unsociable hours. Unpaid care and all the other unpaid work that mothers do is not valued. This time next year I bet we will be wondering why Britain is even more broken; with kids and young teenagers wondering the streets until whatever time their mum gets home. People will wonder why elderly people are not being cared for by grown up children who used to be able to care for them while working part time. As for landlords perhaps they will have to start lowering their high rents if they want to be paid

  • Govnor / 8 March 2015

    Hi,
    The new system will be hard for those who have relied on benefits all there lives to adjust. More debt ridden poor people who can be irresponsible when given something they've never had. What support will be available to these people, which will be an additional burden on the tax payer.

  • Mr unhappy / 8 March 2015

    This a disaster for the landlord. It was difficult enough encouraging those who couldn't manage their responsibilities so therefore allowed the landlord to have it directly, however it gave a little piece of mind. It's not fair on the decent landlord as tenants can withhold rent for any reason and the landlord has no say in the matter. What about the landlord who has a mortgage on their property. The building society won't wait for payment whether or not the landlord can manage or not. Why is it not the same for a person who cannot manage their finances, they too should HAVE to pay their rent as it is not theirs to keep yet some tenants do this. 😰

  • Gloria / 8 March 2015

    How will they pay these benefits monthly?At the moment people get it fortnightly,so does this mean that 2 weeks money will have to last 4 weeks before the next payment,or are they going to start paying it monthly on the next payment date.(which would be 2 weeks later) so people will be paid 2 weeks behind and 2 weeks in advance.Are people being notified by letter?

  • Angie / 8 March 2015

    It's ok saying write down on paper what you spend ie rent,utility bills as my mother has always said things aren't the same as on a piece of paper & she's so right

  • julie / 8 March 2015

    I can't have a bank account due to bankruptcy . So how they going to pay me.

  • Alan Green / 8 March 2015

    The use of a free credit card service for the month should solve the difficult payment scheme
    if and when it happens

  • giancarlo / 8 March 2015

    i find it very useful and helpful, thnak you so much.

  • Antonio Monfermoso / 8 March 2015

    Alot of people are not used to getting money monthly, plus banks are already saying they want to move away from Free Banking, since the government own a few banks, why not set up a FREE bank account for people on low income with no charges?

  • Mr rao / 8 March 2015

    Thanks I did not realise my benefit will be paid monthly

  • saj / 8 March 2015

    Getting paid monthly will effect all the people on benefits.
    It will get us in debts big time if we don't plan it in advanced.
    I suppose we can not fight back with the new laws the grovment keeps bringing and making our life difficult to live.
    Paying directly to the landlords was very good.
    Landlords will not be happy with this at all.

  • almorr / 8 March 2015

    From my experience do save some money, open a bank account and set up a Direct Debit. Next get all your UCredit and payments into it. Divide your food essentials into weekly amounts into 4 bits I. e if you get 500 pounds for everything take 40 out weekly for food, this amount is for a single person

  • Louis Fitzpatrick-Robertson / 8 March 2015

    When, if ever, do you anticipate all benefit recipients will be moved onto the Universal Credit system ?

  • Pam Walker / 8 March 2015

    This will not work and will get more people in debt. Rent arrears will increase and put extra pressure on local authorities and landlords. It is unfair to people who have been used to getting rent paid at source. The benefits system is a joke and if there is a complicated way to do something they do it. Makes no sense whatsoever. more people will be homeless

  • D. Taylor / 8 March 2015

    |I agree with all of the comments so far. What I have found easier is to have two accounts, one that the money goes into and one that I transfer rent, bills etc into. I do not set up standing orders or direct debits, but fast payments which are available for lots of bills and physically go into my branch and sort out transfers to pay the bills. The money goes into their accounts within minutes and you can manage your outgoings closely. Still doesn't make the money go any further though! (I've been on ESA since a near fatal car accident some years ago- was receiving disability benefit, but now apparently I'm not disabled enough!)

  • chris matrak / 8 March 2015

    Monthly payments wow that means one good weekend, an starve for the other three weeks, an as for paying the rent to me instead of my landlord that will get dipped into aswell. Good bye to my on time rent payment reward, an thirdly I will refuese to set up direct debits because if the money isn't there. Then the bank will charge me £30 everytime they request the rent

  • Smeena Bi / 8 March 2015

    i am on JSA and dont think its a good idea.i am not happy with this i like th way it is.

  • Devesh Mardania / 8 March 2015

    check credit check

  • mick / 8 March 2015

    I think it will cost more than it will save,people who are not used to paying rent themselves will just spend the extra benefits on other things,they will begrudge paying rent because although they will receive it in there benefits they will think that it belongs to them and will spend it as THEY like.I think it Will create jobs for Judges,Bailiffs ,and any one else and rent collections.It is obvious that the people who have changed the system have never been skint.

  • Agnes McQuade / 8 March 2015

    This will not work and will get more people in debt. Rent arrears will increase and put extra pressure on local authorities and landlords. It is unfair to people who have been used to getting rent paid at source. The benefits system is a joke and if there is a complicated way to do something they do it. Makes no sense whatsoever

  • Anne Johnson / 21 February 2015

    This will be a disaster for those that prefer to spend money on other things like fags, booze and even drugs etc.....Landlords will not get their rent whilst these people/tenants will always be housed as they can't be left homeless, they'll just spend all the cash knowing the government will always cough up money to help the most 'unfortunate'

  • Shirley / 19 February 2015

    I THINK THE UNIVERSAL TAX CREDIT WILL HAVE ITS PRO'S AND CON'S IT IS GOOD IN ONE WAY TO GET YOU USED TO MONTHLY PAYMENT AS MOST JOBS PAY MONTHLY. I FEEL THE DOWN SIDE WILL BE WHEN THE TENANT HAS TO PAY THE LANDLORD THEIR SELVES ESPECIALLY IF PEOPLE HAVE DRUG HABBITS OR ALCOHOL PROBLEMS THE MONEY WILL BE TO TEMPTING AND ALOT OF THEM WILL FIND THEIR SELVES BEING EVICTED FOR NON PAYMENT OF RENT ETC. SO IS IT A GOOD THING OR NOT I GUESS TIME WILL TELL.

  • Joanne / 19 February 2015

    Nobody is explaining how the changeover will happen. Will those currently receiving fortnightly payments somehow have to make two weeks money last a month until the first monthly payment starts?

  • Warren Sneddon / 17 February 2015

    The Monthly Payment would actually suit me better - I believe the Monthly Payment of Universal Credit is a cost saving measure for DWP - The Banks charge for Payrolls etc therefore if only 12 Payments are made via Universal Credit then that would only be 12 bills from the Banks to DWP rather than many more bills with the older system. I wonder how much worse off per annum I will be.