Universal Credit became available to single people of working age in Argyll and Bute from 7th March 2016. The rollout of Universal Credit was then temporarily paused by the Government from 1st January 2018.
Argyll and Bute moved to being a FULL service area on 19th September 2018. This means that any claimant of working age, whether single or part of a couple, with or without children, making a new claim to benefits from 19th September will claim Universal Credit.
Universal Credit will replace:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
Universal Credit is designed to support people who are on a low income or out of work, and helps ensure that you are better off in work than on benefits. Universal Credit will give you the support you need to prepare for work, move into work, or earn more. In return for this support, it is your responsibility to do everything you can to find work or increase your earnings.
Whether you can claim it will depend on your personal circumstances. Find out more on eligibility. Here are some detailed guides to Universal Credit.
Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears directly into the claimant’s bank account and payments will include help with housing costs where there is entitlement to this.
There are exceptions for some classes of accommodation where the claimant may claim Universal Credit for their personal allowance but claim Housing Benefit for the Housing Element of their claim. Claimants who reside in Temporary Accommodation or Specified/Supported Accommodation whilst claiming Universal Credit are likely to fall into this “excepted” group. Specified (Supported) accommodation is where a Support package is provided to the claimant by, or on behalf of their Landlord, and is conditional to them residing in the accommodation. An exception also applies for claimants fleeing violence and having to stay in Temporary Accommodation where they may have their housing costs paid for two properties for up to 12 months.
Further information can be found here - https://www.gov.uk/housing-and-universal-credit
Frequent Questions and Answers
If I claim Universal Credit, what will I get?
The amount of Universal Credit you will get depends on your circumstances and your income. It can include support for housing. If you get Universal Credit to help you with housing, you will be responsible for paying your rent to your Landlord.
You will need to make a separate claim for any Council Tax Reduction to the Council.
Can I work whilst claiming Universal Credit?
There are no limits to the number of hours you can work in a week if you get Universal Credit. Your payment will reduce gradually as you earn more. You will not lose all your benefits at once if you are on a low income.
Personal Budgeting under Universal Credit
Most people will receive one monthly payment directly into their account. You may not have been used to managing your budget monthly. If you need help, the DWP will refer you for Personal Budgeting Support. Alternatively, you can contact:
- The Council’s Welfare Rights Officers on 01546 605517
- Citizens Advice Bureau on 01546 60 5550 (low rate)
- Argyll and Bute Advice Network (ABAN) - Another source of advice for money, health and many more topics
What do I need to make my claim?
You will be expected to make your claim online.
Before you start your application you will need to have the following information at hand: your postcode, your National Insurance Number, details of the account you want UC paid into, your rent agreement (if applying for housing costs), details of any savings you have, details of any income that is not from work and details of any other benefits you are getting.
It should take around 20-40 minutes to complete the UC application.
What happens after I apply?
After you complete your application, DWP require you to verify your identity. This can be done using the Gov Verify facility or you can call the Universal Credit helpline to arrange an ID interview in your local Job Centre.
Once you have accepted your Universal Credit Claimant Commitment your claim will be processed for payment. DWP will contact you using your Universal Credit on-line account and you can contact your Work Coach or Case Manager via your account. You will no longer receive any letters from DWP. All communications and payment details will be available on your Universal Credit on-line account.
Where can I use a computer?
Applications for Universal Credit must be made on-line using this link: https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit
Claimants require a bank, building society or credit union account and have an e-mail address. Public access to computers is provided at your local Library.
Access to computers can also be provided at your local Job Centre Plus office.
Help before your Universal Credit Payments start
When you first apply for Universal Credit, you will have to wait at least 5 weeks from the date of claim to get your first payment. After this, it will be paid calendar monthly. If you are in difficulty whilst you are waiting for your first payment, DWP may be able to offer you an advance, which is repaid over an agreed period.
Future payments of Universal Credit
Scotland has different rules in Universal Credit legislation which allow claimants to request payment of Universal Credit twice in the month rather than monthly, and to choose to have their housing costs paid direct to their Landlord. This choice will be offered to a Universal Credit claimant at the start of their second Assessment period. This choice can be changed at any time in the future. These are known as Scottish Flexibilities. You can find out more about these choices here
Landlords in Argyll and Bute
Information on how Landlords may be impacted by Universal Credit can be found on the DWP website, topics include,
- Universal Credit payments and helping tenants prepare
- Evidence requirements and checking claims
- Paying for 2 homes
- Service charges
- Support and alternative payment arrangements
- Recovering rent arrears from a Universal Credit claim
- Budgeting support
- Discretionary housing payments
- Specialist accommodation needs
DWP also publish a newsletter which aims to keep Landlords up to date with changes in Universal Credit and the latest version is available here: