Universal credit

Universal credit

Universal Credit is now being rolled out across the country and started in Sunderland in November 2015.  

Universal Credit is a new benefit for people of working age who are sick, unemployed and looking for work, or working but on a low income.

UC will eventually replace the following 6 main working-age benefits:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

Universal Credit will be paid monthly in arrears in a convenient single payment paid directly to you. If you’re already claiming one or more of the above benefits, carry on claiming as normal. You will be notified by the DWP when you need to apply for Universal Credit.

IMPORTANT

Universal Credit has now been rolled out in Sunderland.

This is only for single people making new claims.

Please let the Money Matters team know if you are making a Universal Credit claim.

If you are already claiming working-age benefits, carry on as normal until you are notified by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

To find out more about Universal Credit Start dates visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit.  

More information

What is different about Universal Credit?

It has been introduced to make the benefits system simpler and to increase work incentives for those who are unemployed or working but on a low income. It is designed to ensure people are better off in work, rather than on benefits – ‘making work pay’.

It is important to note:

  • There are no limits on how many hours a week you can work if you claim UC. The amount you receive will reduce as you start to earn more, easing the transition between unemployment and the world of work.
  • If you are on housing benefit your rent will no longer be paid direct to your landlord.
  • It will be paid monthly into an account (This can be a bank or building society account, or an account with an alternative provider such as your local Credit Union or Post Office). 
  • If you and your partner both receive UC you will only receive one monthly payment into the household.
  • You can only apply and manage your UC account online. 

How can you prepare?

  • If you don’t have a bank, building society, Credit Union or Post Office account you will need to get one.
  • Set up a Direct Debit to make sure your rent is paid on time.
  • As UC is paid monthly you will need to start to think about monthly rather than weekly budgeting.
  • If you need to, make sure you have access to the internet and support to improve your digital skills.
  • If you would like to get an estimate of how much UC you will be entitled to, visit www.gov.uk/universalcredit

Accessing a computer or learning new skills

In partnership with Sunderland City Council there are a number of Electronic Village Halls in Sunderland where you can go to get free access to the internet. In addition, Job Centre Plus and local libraries all have computers which are usually free to use. There is also free Wi-Fi in all of our offices.

If you would like to learn new skills our digital champions can help, from one to one advice and community events there are lots of way to get the support you need. 

Do you want to learn new digital skills or share your skills with others?

If so, contact laura.brown@gentoogroup.com or call 0191 525 5000. 

Universal Credit FAQs

Are all benefits included in universal credit payments?

No. Universal Credit includes Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and income-related Employment and Support Allowance. Other benefits such as Child Benefit, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or a Carer’s Allowance will be paid separately.

How regularly will I receive Universal Credit?

Universal Credit will be paid as one single monthly payment. The payment will be made to the household (meaning the claimant, partner and any dependent children.) Couples will need to decide who will receive the payment.

Do I need to have a bank account to receive Universal Credit?

If you have not got a bank account it might be a good idea to get one. Universal Credit will be paid into your bank account the same way you would receive a monthly salary. Alternatively, you can have UC paid directly into your Building Society, Post Office or Credit Union account subject to it being able to receive automated payments.

Will Gentoo automatically receive my rent?

No. If you receive housing benefit you will be used to part or all of your rent being paid direct to Gentoo. Housing Benefit will form part of Universal Credit, therefore you will have the responsibility to pay your rent to us. Contact Gentoo to set up a direct debit, standing order or an Allpay account to ensure your rent is paid on time.

For guidance and advice on managing rent payments visit the Money Advice Service Website. 

If I would like my rent to be paid direct to Gentoo, are there any exceptions?

Under Universal Credit only where a customer is identified as ‘vulnerable’ will Housing Benefit be paid direct to us.

If my partner and I both are entitled to Universal Credit will we get a monthly payment each?

No. If you and your partner are both eligible for Universal Credit you will get one monthly payment for the household.

For further information visit the Money Advice Service Website. 

Can I pay four weeks rent upfront?

Yes. This might be a good idea as most of our customers are used to paying their rent weekly. This may help you to budget for the month ahead.

Visit our Money Matters section for further information about making the most of your Money. You can also try the Money Advice Service's budget planner