Universal Credit has been rolled across Tendring for working age claimants, but will not affect everybody immediately. The biggest change for a tenant is that you will now receive direct payments towards your housing costs. Therefore, you will now be responsible when you are in receipt of Universal Credit for paying your rent - this should be your top priority above all other bills to ensure you maintain your home and to avoid losing it.
Making Your Claim
Please remember that an award of Universal credit, does not automatically entitle you to help with your Council Tax. You will have to make a separate claim for help with your council tax. You can do this by completing this enquiry form. Please make sure that you give us your name and phone number and we will normally get back to you within 48 hours.
Claims for Universal credit must be made online, you can access the claim form here.
After you have made your claim you will need to book an interview.
Call to book: 0800 328 5644 (textphone: 0800 328 1344) Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.
You'll be asked for your National Insurance number when you call.
Book as soon as you can or you might have to claim again.
It will take between 20 and 40 minutes to make the claim online. Make sure you have enough time to complete the application. You cannot save the online application and go back to it later.
Universal credit will start from the date you make your claim. It will only be backdated in exceptional circumstances.
Top tips to ensure that you adjust to the new style payment and manage your finances effectively are;
Keep a diary of your spending;
Note down all money coming in and every payment going out (such as rent, council tax, utility bills & living expenses etc.) to clearly see what you are spending and to keep track of your money. Further help for budgeting is available if required from your local Citizens Advice centre.
Compile an income and expenditure budget;
Because Universal Credit will be paid to you monthly you may need to adjust your budget to avoid running out of money before your next payment.
Open a Bank Account;
Universal Credit will be paid monthly direct straight into your account, to receive your payments you will need a bank/building society account. If you live with your partner and you both have an entitlement to Universal Credit this can be paid into separate accounts or both into a joint account. Please follow this link for information regarding a deal the government has worked on with banks, so people with bad credit are still able to open a basic account.
Implemented automated payments;
To avoid arrears and to help with budgeting it will be easier to keep track of payments by automating them by using direct debit or standing orders. This is the most effective and efficient way to pay your bills and avoid getting into arrears.
For an on-line Personal Budgeting Support Calculator please access www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk or contact your local Citizens Advice centre for budgeting advice.