Getting ready for Universal Credit - FAQ's

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What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a benefit being introduced by the Government to replace six existing benefits with a single monthly payment.  This only applies to people of working age.

It’s paid monthly in arrears direct to your bank/building society account, which means you have to wait at least a month for your first payment.

Universal Credit will replace the following six benefits:

  • Income Support,
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment & Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit,
  • Child Tax Credit
  • and Housing Benefit

What is the roll out date for Universal Credit?

From 7 November 2018, Bolton will be in a ‘Full Service’ area for Universal Credit.

This means that new claimants will be required to apply for Universal Credit on-line - GOV.UK Apply for Universal Credit

Anyone who is already on Universal Credit will receive an invitation from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to move over to the new system.

If this applies to you, wait for your letter to arrive in the post, which will be from 14 November 2018.

 

I’m already receiving benefits, do I need to make a new Universal Credit claim on 7 November?

No.  If you are already receiving one of the following benefits, you do not need to do anything otherwise this could affect your benefits and your payments could stop.

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment & Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Universal Credit (see note below)

You only need to make a new claim for Universal Credit if you have a change in circumstances and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) advise you to do so.

Any other benefits you are currently entitled to will continue to be paid to you in the normal way in addition to any Universal Credit payment.  These benefits include:

  • Child Benefit
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Carers Allowance
  • Contributory Employment and Support Allowance,
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment

Remember to claim Council Tax Support from Bolton Council as this is not included in the Universal Credit claim - Click here for more information or to claim Council Tax Support. 

I’m already receiving Universal Credit, do I need to make a new claim on 7 November 18?

No.  Anyone who is already on Universal Credit will receive an invitation from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to move over to the new system.

If this applies to you, wait for your letter to arrive in the post, which will be from 14 November 2018.

Only make a new claim when you are advised to do so by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), otherwise this will affect your existing benefits and payments could stop.

Will Universal Credit help with my Council Tax?

No.  You must make a separate claim for Council Tax Support through Bolton Council.

Click here for more information or to claim Council Tax Support. 

 

What do I need before making my online Universal Credit claim?

To start your Universal Credit claim, you will need:

You will also need to have the following information to hand when making your claim:

  • Your (and any partner’s) National Insurance Number(s)
  • Your address and postcode
  • Type of accommodation and your landlord’s name and address.  (Bolton at Home’s address is: 98 Waters Meeting Road, Bolton, BL1 8SW)
  • Your rent (not counting any service charges you have to pay separately.  Ask us for a breakdown if you are not sure)
  • Details about your current income, such as earnings, self-employment, any benefits you claim and any other income
  • Details of your savings and investments
  • Child Benefit reference numbers
  • Childcare costs – how much and who your provider is
  • Bank account details, including account number and sort code
  • A valid email address
  • Your land line / mobile phone number - if you have one
  • Proof of identity – for example passport, driving license, debit or credit card

 

What identification do I need to make my Universal Credit claim?

You will need to provide identification (ID) when making a Universal Credit claim.  The following ID is acceptable:

Primary ID

  • Driving Licence
  • Pass port
  • Bank Cards with sort code & account code
  • Bank cards without sort code & account code with a bank statement – must be their own bank account
  • Residency permit

Secondary ID

  • Building society Passbook

I don’t have an email address. Do I need one to make a Universal Credit claim?

Yes, you will need your own email address. 

We have attached a link on how to set up an email address below;

We have free access to computers and the internet in our UCAN centres.  If you need help setting up an email address we can support you.

Click on this link to find your nearest UCAN centre or ring us on 01204 328000.

Currently I don’t have my own bank account, can I use someone else’s account to receive my Universal Credit Payments?

No, you will need to have a bank account in your own name to receive Universal Credit payments, unless you are making a joint claim, in which case a partner’s account can be used to receive Universal Credit payments.

If you need help setting up a bank account, click here for more information or ring us on 01204 328000.

I’m finding it difficult to set up a bank account, where can I get help?

If you need help setting up a bank account, click here for more information

If you prefer to talk to someone and you are a Bolton at Home tenant, contact our Money Advice team on 01204 328000.

If you are not a Bolton at Home tenant, you can contact Bolton’s Money Skills on 01204 332916 or click here for more information.

How do I make a Universal Credit claim?

You need to apply for Universal Credit online.

Before making a claim, please take the time to read the questions and answers we have provided so you are prepared and have the information you need to proceed with your claim.

For more information on Universal credit online, to check your eligibility or to make a claim, go to www.gov.uk/universal-credit/how-to-claim

Universal Credit provides a free phone helpline on 0800 328 564.

I don’t have a mobile telephone number and can’t proceed with my Universal Credit claim. What do I do?

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has advised that if you don’t have a mobile number, you can put in a ‘dummy’ number to bypass this section on your Universal Credit online claim, for example, put in 01234567890

However, you will need a valid email address to receive correspondence from the DWP.

Make sure you click the box on your application to say that you would like the DWP to send notifications to you by email.

I can’t access the internet to make my Universal Credit claim, what can I do?

You can only claim Universal Credit online, there is no paper form.

At Bolton at Home we offer you free access to computers and the internet in our UCAN centres, and our friendly staff will support you if you need help.

Click on this link to find your nearest UCAN centre or ring us on 01204 328000.

You can also go to a Jobcentre Plus or the One Stop Shop in Victoria Square to make your claim online and staff there can help you.

 Most libraries allow some free internet access.

 

What help is available to fill out my Universal Credit claim?

Many of the online claim questions have a box next to them saying “What does this mean?”

It’s a good idea to click on these even if you think you know what the question means, just to be certain.

If you have difficulty with reading or writing, please contact the Universal Credit free phone helpline on 0800 328 564 for assistance.

Of if you would prefer to speak to us for help, please ring us on 01204 328000.

What should I enter when asked ‘do you pay rent?’ I’ve never paid rent before as I’ve always received Housing Benefit.

The answer will always be ‘yes’ if you or your partner has a tenancy.

With Universal Credit, the Housing Costs Element (which replaces Housing Benefit) will now be paid directly to you and not us.

This means that you are now responsible for paying your rent.

What should I enter when asked ‘how much rent do you pay?’

You should always enter your full ‘eligible rent’, which is the total amount of rent payable to Bolton at Home each week.

Even if you have not been paying full rent before, for example you have received some Housing Benefit, you will still need to put in the total rent charge.

Contact us on 01204 328000 if you’re not sure how much your rent is.

How can I pay my rent to Bolton at Home now that Universal Credit is paid to me?

Direct Debits are a straightforward way to pay your rent.

Once set up, payments will automatically be paid out of your bank account.  You can set this for any day between the 1st and the 28th of each month.

Click here for more information on setting up a Direct Debit or opening a bank account,  or ring us on 01204 328000.

What happens after I make my Universal Credit claim?

There are a number of things you need to do once you have completed your Universal Credit online claim. 

  • Step 1 - Verify your identity online or make a ‘verification interview’ appointment at Jobcentre Plus
  • Step 2 - Make a ‘new claim interview’ appointment at Jobcentre Plus
  • Step 3 – Attend your appointment and sign a ‘Claimant Commitment’ otherwise your claim may be cancelled

If you don’t follow all these steps, your claim may be cancelled and you won’t receive payments.

How do I verify my identity when making my Universal Credit claim?

Part of the claiming process includes verifying your identity online using the Government’s ‘Verify’ service.  Click here for information on how to verify your identiy. 

You can use a:

  • Passport
  • Driving licence
  • Bank or credit card

If your identity cannot be verified using the government’s ‘Verify’ service, you will need to phone 0345 6004272 to book an appointment for a ‘verification interview’ at your Jobcentre Plus (this is different to the ‘new claim interview’).

You must bring all the evidence and documents you have been asked to provide to this interview.

If you do not verify your documents, your claim may be cancelled and you won’t receive payments.

What happens at the new claim interview?

At this interview you must bring all the evidence and documents you have been asked to provide. If you can’t, you must let the Jobcentre Plus know why.

At the appointment you (and your partner) will be expected to sign a claimant commitment, setting out what you agree to do in order to receive the benefit.

This could range from searching for work full-time, to nothing, depending on your circumstances.

It is important you are clear to the ‘work coach’ about your abilities and responsibilities so you are not set unrealistic expectations.

If you do not meet the expectations placed upon you, your Universal Credit could be reduced or stopped.

If you (and your partner if you have one) don’t sign the Claimant Commitment/s, you won’t get any Universal Credit.

If for any reason you find you can’t do something that is on the Commitment (for example you are late for a Jobcentre Plus interview or you have been too unwell to go to an interview, or you have to look after a sick child) you must tell the Jobcentre Plus immediately, and keep a record.  Otherwise you could be “sanctioned” (not paid) and this could last for anything between a month and three years.

If you are told your benefit is to be sanctioned and you think this is wrong or unjust, you can ask the Jobcentre Plus to reconsider their decision.  If they refuse, you can appeal.

You can contact our Money Advice Team for more advice and support on 01204 328000.

Click here for more information from Citizens Advice.  You can download their helpful checklist to help you get prepared for your interview.   

It can be difficult to find out all the information we need from Universal Credit. Can Bolton at Home speak to Universal Credit or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on my behalf?

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is a Government department and is separate to Bolton at Home.

The Universal Credit service doesn’t share information with Bolton at Home about your claim.  This is because your personal information must be kept confidential.

If you have a specific problem with your claim, you can give Universal Credit authority to speak to us.  However you will need to be present when Bolton at Home speak to the DWP on your behalf.   

My Housing Benefit is currently paid directly to Bolton at Home. Can the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) pay my rent to you out of my Universal Credit payment?

Your Universal Credit payment will include help with your rent, called a ‘housing payment’. The housing payment is paid directly to you and not us, so you will need to pay your rent to us.  

It usually takes around 5 weeks to get your first payment from the date you make your claim.

If you feel you may struggle to pay your rent or bills during this period, you can apply to Universal Credit for an advanced payment, however, this needs to be paid back.  You can apply online or talk to your work coach at Jobcentre Plus.

Many customers have found that paying their rent by Direct Debit helps them budget better.  We can help you set this up, please contact us on 01204 328000.

What happens to my other benefits that are not replaced by Universal Credit?

The benefits Universal Credit is replacing are:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit
  • and Working Tax Credit

Any other benefits you may be entitled to will continue to be paid to you in the normal way in addition to any Universal Credit payment, these benefits include:

  • Child Benefit
  • Bereavement Allowance
  • Carers Allowance
  • Contributory Employment and Support Allowance,
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment

Remember to claim Council Tax Support from Bolton Council  as this is not included in the Universal Credit claim.  Click here for more information on Council Tax Support or to make a claim.

What do I do if I’m struggling to pay rent or bills during the 5 week wait period for my first Universal Credit payment?

If you feel you may struggle to pay your rent or bills during this period, you can apply to Universal Credit for an advanced payment.  You will need to pay this back over the next 12 months from your Universal Credit payments.

You can apply for an advanced payment online or talk to your work coach at Jobcentre Plus.

 

Other things you can do:

 

 

 

 

We can help you to reduce your gas, electricity and water bills, check your entitlement to benefits and help you apply for grants and loans.

We can also help you to deal with creditors, bailiffs and loan sharks, support you with your banking and get you emergency food, fuel or essential household items.

For more information or support, please get in touch with us on 01204 328000.

I’m confused about what benefits I’m entitled to and I don’t know how to apply for them. How do I find out more information?

Our Bolton at Home Money Advice Team can offer you help and support around benefits.  We can do a quick benefit calculation to tell you how much you are entitled to claim and if you are missing out on anything.

We can also help with your questions about what benefits you are entitled to, dealing with your bills, budgeting, help with filling in forms and so on.

For example, if you need to find out about Personal Independence Payments, which replaced Disability Living Allowance and isn’t covered by Universal Credit, you can get advice about this.

Ring us on 01204 328000 to talk to one of our team.

If I start work while claiming Universal Credit, will I have to pay all my own rent?

If you receive Universal Credit you will responsible for paying your rent to Bolton at Home.  This is because your Housing Costs (previously Housing Benefit) will be included in your single monthly Universal Credit Payment.

You must keep Universal Credit updated with any change in circumstances, including if you start working.

Depending on the hours you work, and the amount of income you get from work, you may continue to receive a Universal Credit payment each month.  However, as your Universal Credit award is assessed each month, according to your income in the previous monthly assessment period, the amount you receive is likely to vary from month to month, particularly if you are in part time or irregular work.