Universal Credit has started to replace six different benefits for working age claimants. These are:
- Housing benefit
- Income-based jobseeker's allowance
- Income-related employment and support allowance
- Income support
- Working tax credit
- Child tax credit
If you are already claiming, or plan to claim, any of these benefits it's important to find out about Universal Credit and how it will affect you.
You won't be affected by Universal Credit if you and your partner have both reached the qualifying age for pension credit, or if at least one of you has an existing claim to Pension Credit.
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a single means-tested benefit paid to working age claimants. You can receive Universal Credit if you are in work and on a low income, or if you are out of work. It will cover housing costs and day-to-day living costs for you and your family.
Universal credit will be paid monthly to you on behalf of your household, directly into your bank or building society account. You'll be responsible for managing this money and paying your bills.
Any help you get with your rent will be included with your Universal Credit payment and you'll be responsible for paying your rent to us from this. It is important you are aware of this change as you could lose your home if you don't pay your rent.
How much you get will depend on your personal circumstances. To make work pay, your Universal Credit payment will reduce gradually as you earn more, so you won't lose all your benefits at once if you're on a low income.
When will I be able to claim Universal Credit?
Since February 2015 you may have been able to claim Universal Credit if you're a single person living in certain areas. You'll only receive Universal Credit if you need to make a new job seeker's claim. If you need to make a claim for any of the other six benefits Universal Credit will replace, you'll remain on the old benefits system.
In 2016 new claims will be taken from a wider group of people until 2020, at which point everyone will claim Universal Credit.
If you already claim one of the affected benefits, you'll continue to do so as normal and you'll be told when Universal Credit will affect you. But it's worth finding out more so you can prepare.
Currently Universal Credit is being gradually introduced for new claimants across different areas. If you live in one of these areas and are claiming, or are planning to claim to Universal Credit, please contact us so that we can help you with your claim.
How can I prepare for Universal Credit?
There are a number of differences between claiming Universal Credit and the benefits you may be used to receiving. By understanding how Universal Credit works and planning in advance, you can make the move to Universal Credit as easy as possible.
We can offer you help and support to do this. You can also use the government's online Universal Credit Personal Planner.
Paying rent yourself
You can find out how about to pay rent on our rent pages.
You should always let us know if you have any issues that may make it difficult for you to pay your rent, such as debt or addiction. We can provide support and may be able to request that your Universal Credit is paid directly to us to cover your rent.
Please contact us
If you do not pay your rent you could lose your home so it is important you speak to us.
We are running a Direct Payment pilot scheme for residents living in SE10 and the whole London Borough of Newham to help better understand what support L&Q can offer. Take a look at the pilot scheme page for more information on this.
Universal Credit claims will be made online. To help you manage online claims, L&Q provides free computer skills training for residents aged 18 to 60 who do not have access to computer equipment and the internet, and few IT skills. Find out more on our current opportunities page.
Budgeting for monthly payments
Your Universal Credit will be paid monthly. You will need to ensure you pay your rent and bills and also have enough left for essentials, such as food, throughout the month. If you are part of a couple, you will have to do this with your partner.
You can find money guidance and links to useful websites on our money guidance pages.
You can get advice on budgeting, managing money as a couple and access a free budget planner at the Money Advice Service website.
If you have problems managing your money or are in debt, we have a range of specialist services that may be able to help. By talking to us, we will understand what you need and will refer you to a service that can help you.
Please contact our Revenue team on 0800 015 6536.
Using a bank or building society account
It is important that you set up an account for your Universal Credit can be paid into. You can find out more on our bank accounts and credit unions page.
How we can help
If you are affected by the changes above and are worried about being able to pay your rent, you should ask for advice now. If you don't pay your rent you could lose your home, so it is important that you speak to us.
We have dedicated teams and services which can help you. Find out more about how we can help.