Universal Credit (U.C) is a new benefit – a single monthly payment in arrears which is paid direct to claimants that includes help with your rent and will not cover any service charges. This means that claimants have to take responsibility to pay their full rent to their landlord themselves.

It is important that you have a full understanding as to what is required of you once you have made the claim for UC. If you fail to complete the UC journey your claim will be cancelled and you will need to begin the journey again.

The seventh day after you make your claim is the date of the month on which your Universal Credit Payment will be paid each month. This is called your assessment date.

Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears so you’ll have to wait one calendar month from your assessment date before your first UC payment is made. This is called your assessment period.

You then have to wait up to seven days for the payment to reach your bank account.

How much is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is made up of a standard allowance plus elements for:

• Housing

• Being a carer

• Childcare costs

• Disabled children

• An ill or disabled adult

Your maximum Universal Credit Award is made up of:

• One standard allowance for your household, plus

• Any elements which cover your family circumstances

You will get the maximum award if your household has no other earnings and savings or capital of £6,000 or less.

If you or someone in your household has other earnings and/or savings, these will be taken into account when working out your Universal Credit payment.
Many people have already been affected and this number will continue to increase by the end of 2017.

Below are our top 5 tips on what you need to know and how to prepare.
Five things you need to know about universal credit

1. Universal Credit replaces housing benefit and other working age benefits (these changes are being introduced across London boroughs at different times).

2. You will be responsible for paying your rent directly to your landlord. Set up a standing order or direct debit to pay your rent.

YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT IF YOU RECEIVE THE UC PAYMENT WHICH INCLUDES THE RENT AND DO NOT PAY YOUR RENT YOUR LANDLORDS WILL NOTIFY THE DEPARTMENT OF WORK AND PENSIONS (DWP) OF THIS. THEY WILL THEN PAY THE RENT DIRECT TO THE LANDLORDS AND TAKE  AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT TOWARDS THE ARREARS

3. Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears.

4. It can take up to 6 weeks to get your first payment. The first 7 days Universal Credit is not paid so there is no payment towards your living costs or housing costs for one week.

5. Anyone in hardship can apply for an Advance Payment, but this has to be paid back.

Five things you can do to prepare
1. Build up 1 week’s credit on your rent account so you can cover your rent for seven days after making your claim for Universal Credit.

2. Get in financial shape. Managing for 5-6 weeks without benefit will be challenging so try to clear debts and build some savings now. Also stock up on long lasting food, so that you can manage whilst waiting for your claim to be processed.

3. If you owe any debt get advice on debt asap

4. Improve your IT skills. Universal Credit claims can only be made online so if you are not a confident user of computers and the internet and enrol for free digital training

5. Advisor – getting a job or a better paid job can provide extra income. Get help with your CV

Tip for the day:

Remember to plan ahead you will have several weeks with very limited finances

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