Universal Credit

What is Universal Credit (UC)?

Universal credit is a new benefit being gradually introduced across the UK, replacing means-tested benefits and tax credits for working-age people.

As we head into May 2018, we will be seeing the full roll out of the Universal Credit benefit (UC) to the St Austell and Newquay constituency and across Cornwall.

Its aim is to simplify the benefits system, make it more efficient and increase the incentives for people to work rather than stay on benefits – making work pay. For example, there are no limits on how many hours a week you can work if you’re claiming UC. Instead, the amount you get will gradually reduce as you earn more, so you won’t lose all your benefits at once which unfortunately was the case with many of the benefits UC is replacing.

What benefits does it replace?

Universal credit seeks to roll many existing benefits, currently paid separately at different times by the Department for Work and Pensions, HMRC and local authorities such as Cornwall Council into one benefit paid monthly. The benefits UC will be replacing are listed below:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

If you make a new claim for any of these benefits in the St Austell and Newquay area from May 2018, you will instead be asked to make a claim for Universal Credit.

For anyone already receiving one or more of the benefits universal credit will eventually replace, there won’t be any change immediately. Eventually, existing claimants will be moved onto universal credit by the Department for Work and Pensions even if there has been no change of circumstances. This process is currently planned to happen between 2019 and 2022.

How can I make a claim?

Claims for Universal Credit are submitted online and you will need to provide the following information:

  • Your bank, building society or credit union account details
  • An email address
  • Your National Insurance number
  • Information about your housing, for example how much rent you pay
  • Details of your income, for example payslips
  • Details of savings and any investments, like shares or a property that you rent out
  • Details of how much you pay for childcare if you’re applying for help with childcare costs

You also have to verify your identity online. You’ll need some proof of identity for this, for example your driving licence, passport or debit or credit card. This is not an exhaustive list and there are many alternative forms of identification which the DWP are able to accept.

Where can I find more information?

You can contact the DWP directly about Universal credit on the Freephone UC helpline, Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm on 0800 328 9344. Alternatively, you can contact the Textphone via 0800 328 1344.

More information about UC is available on the gov website via:

https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit

You can also find more detail about UC and how to prepare for UC via:

http://ucpp.dwp.gov.uk/universal-credit-preparation/

The DWP have also produced a series of videos to help explain this process and they are available below:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeysxjNpEPy_UnItAtlw9u3tTwE4oMIiL

Additional services and support

If you have any concerns or require any assistance with making a claim, budgeting or anything else there are a number of support services available.

Citizens Advice

To access the Citizens Advice Service or make an appointment, members of the public can text the word ADVICE to 78866 and an adviser will call back within 24 hours or the next working day. Alternatively, the service can be contacted on 03444-111444 Mondays to Fridays between 10am and 4pm.

https://www.citizensadvicecornwall.org.uk/

Money Advice Service

To contact the Money Advice Service, you can use a webchat via their website or call them on 0800 138 7777 any weekday from 8am to 8pm and on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm. Please note they are closed on Sundays and bank holidays.

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en

A more comprehensive list of local support services is available here.

I will be closely watching the rollout of UC as it progresses and will work with the Department for Work and Pensions both locally and in Westminster with Ministerial colleagues to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.

Should anyone encounter difficulties with their claim for UC, then I will be happy to help by looking at cases and making representations to the Department for Work and Pensions if appropriate. My constituency office is open to the public Monday – Friday 10.00am – 4.00pm (no appointment necessary) or contact me on either 01726 829379 or office@stevedouble.org.uk.

Office of Steve Double MP
3 Fore Street
St Austell
PL25 5PX

Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events