People in Tendring who receive benefits are being urged to be ready for the introduction of Universal Credit this summer.
The new benefit, for those of working age, is replacing Job Seekers’ Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Income Support and Housing Benefit.
As part of a national roll out, it comes into effect in two phases during July, when people make a new claim for any of the existing benefits listed above. They will then find all their benefits replaced with Universal Credit.
While the changes are led by the Department for Work and Pensions, through local Job Centres, Universal Credit does not include Local Council Tax Support (LCTS) – discounts offered on council tax to those on low incomes. People therefore must apply directly to the Council for help with their council tax.
An awareness campaign has already begun with council housing tenants, some of whom receive Housing Benefit, to make them aware of the changes.
Carlo Guglielmi, Tendring District Council Cabinet Member for Finance, said it was vital people applied for LCTS if they move onto Universal Credit.
“We understand the transition to Universal Credit may be a worrying time for those in receipt of benefits, and that is why we are trying to make sure everyone is aware of the changes,” he said.
“To make sure that those who qualify benefit from LCTS – and to make sure the Council is not expecting council tax from those who should not be paying it – it is important that people apply separately, to us, for LCTS.
“I would also ask that if you know someone of working age in receipt of the relevant benefits, that you have a conversation with them about this and Universal Credit, as awareness is a big part of the challenge ahead.”
To apply for LCTS or to find out more, visit www.tendringdc.gov.uk/benefits/apply