Universal Credit information-Lorraine Moss.


Lorraine Moss, a Welfare Benefits Adviser today writes in the Havering Daily on Universal Credit.

Sadly, due to The Covid 19 crisis, many people are being made redundant so I thought that it would be useful to look at Universal Credit.  I will be covering this subject for the next few weeks and today I will go through an overall view of this benefit.

Universal Credit was first introduced in 2010 and the idea was that it would replace the following existing benefits; Job Seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and Tax Credits.  The aim was to make it easier for claimants to work without their benefits stopping and to simplify the benefit process.  New style Job Seekers Allowance and New Style Employment and Support Allowance are still available for people to claim as they are based on their national insurance contributions and not their income.  Another difference is that Universal Credit is paid every calendar month.

Important Information to Consider Before Claiming Universal Credit

If you are in receipt of Tax Credits and Housing Benefit, these payments will stop.  It takes at least 6 weeks to receive your first payment.  You can ask the DWP for an advance.  A change of circumstances automatically triggers Universal Credit and once you have started your claim, you can not revert back to the Legacy (older style) benefits.  Also, people who are in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium cannot currently claim Universal Credit.  It is best to seek advice before making a claim.

Council Tax Benefit

You may also be eligible for Council Tax Benefit.  However, you have to make a claim separately and many people are not aware of this and carry on paying the full amount.  To apply for Council Tax Benefit  in Havering, please see https://www.havering.gov.uk/info/20012/housing_benefit_and_council_tax_support if you do not have internet access, you can call Havering Council on 01708 434343.

Who Can Claim Universal Credit

Eligibility

You may be able to get Universal Credit if: you’re on a low income or out of work- you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)- you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)- you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you- you live in the UK

If you live with your partner

Your partner’s income and savings will be taken into account, even if they are not eligible for Universal Credit.

If you’re 18 or over and in training or studying full-time

You can make a new Universal Credit claim if any of the following apply:- you live with your partner and they’re eligible for Universal Credit- you’re responsible for a child, either as a single person or as a couple- you’re disabled and entitled to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and have limited capability for work- you’re in further education, are 21 or under and do not have parental support, for example you’re estranged from your parents and you’re not under local authority care

If you’re 16 or 17

You can make a new Universal Credit claim if any of the following apply:- you have limited capability for work or you have medical evidence and are waiting for a Work Capability Assessment- you’re caring for a severely disabled person- you’re responsible for a child- you’re in a couple with responsibility for at least one child and your partner is eligible for Universal Credit- you’re pregnant and it’s 11 weeks or less before your expected week of childbirth- you’ve had a child in the last 15 weeks- you do not have parental support, for example you’re estranged from your parents and you’re not under local authority care

If you’re studying full-time

You can also make a claim if you’re in full-time further education and any of the following apply:- you do not have parental support- you have limited capacity for work and you’re entitled to Personal Independence Payment (PIP)- you’re responsible for a child- you’re in a couple with responsibility for a child and your partner is eligible for Universal Credit

If you’re in a couple and one of you is State Pension age

You and your partner can claim Universal Credit as a couple if one of you is under State Pension age and eligible for Universal Credit.

When you both reach State Pension age your Universal Credit claim will stop.

You may be able to apply for Pension Credit or other benefits as a couple when your Universal Credit stops

(source Gov.UK Website  https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/eligibility

Standard Allowance and Elements

Standard Allowance

Single Claimant’s under 25   £342.72

Single Claimant’s over 25 £409.89

Couples under 25 £488.59

Couples over 25 £594.04

Please note that the Standard Allowance has been temporally increased by approximately £20.00 per week due to the Covid 19 crisis.  It is not yet known when it will reduce back to the normal rate.

Elements

Child Element – £281.25 for your first child if they are born before 06/04/2017 and £235.83 for your second child and any other eligible children.  There is a limit of two child elements on Universal Credit unless your children were born before 6 April 2017.

Disabled Child Addition (Lower Rate)  £128.25.  This is for children who are in receipt of any rate of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. 

Disabled Child Addition (Higher Rate) £400.29. This is for children in receipt of high rate care Disability Living Allowance or The Enhanced Daily Living element of Personal Independence Payment or certified by a consultant ophthalmologist as severely sight impaired  or blind.

Limited Capability Element £128.25 This payment is no longer available for new claimant’s; they may still be placed in this group but will not receive payment.

Limited Capability For Work and Work Related Activity £341.92  

Carer  £162.92

Childcare Costs (one child) up to £646.35. Percentage of childcare covered 85%

Childcare costs (two or more children) up to £1108.04 percentage of Childcare covered 85%

Housing Element – This is variable, if you are in social housing, this amount usually covers the full amount of your rent.  However, there may be deductions due to Bedroom Tax , non Dependent deductions and the benefit cap.  If you are in private housing, you will receive your entitlement under The Local Housing Allowance rate.

These elements are what makes up the maximum amount of Universal Credit that you may be eligible for.  Income and earnings are then deducted.  Earning are tapered at 63%.  However, some claimant’s may be eligible for The Work Allowance.  This applies if you have children or have a Limited Capability For work.  The work allowance is an earning disregard which is deducted from your earnings before they are tapered at 63%.

The Higher Work Allowance is £512.00 and this is for claimant’s who have children or a limited capability for work but do not claim any Housing Costs.

The Lower Work Allowance is £292.00 and this is for claimant’s who have children or a limited capability for work but also have Housing costs included in their claim. 

You can apply for Universal Credit on the following link https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit, please ensure that you enter all of your details correct, especially if someone else is making the application for you.  For example, if a child’s date of birth is entered incorrectly, they will not be able to verify them and this could result in them not being included in your claim and could take some time to resolve.  Alternatively, you can call The Universal Credit helpline  on 0800 328 5644.

 You can get help and advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau about how to claim Universal Credit please see https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/universal-credit/claiming/helptoclaim/#h-our-help-to-claim-service. You can also contact Peabody Havering on 01708 776 770.

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