From October this year, the Government will introduce the full service version of Universal Credit (UC) in our area. This will mean many more people having to claim UC. UC is designed to replace Tax Credits, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Employment & Support Allowance (income-related) and Jobseekers Allowance (income-based).
From October you will have to claim UC if you are making a claim for benefits for the first time or if you have had a change in your circumstances (become unemployed, are taken off Employment Support Allowance, become responsible for a first child etc). You will not need to apply for UC if you are old enough to qualify for Pension Credit, or if you are responsible for 3 or more children.
Full service UC claims will have to be made and managed online. You will need an e-mail address and bank account to manage your claim. The first payment of UC will not normally be made until five weeks after the date of claim and further payments are normally made on a monthly basis. These payments will include a housing element, which is intended to cover your rent, but will be paid to yourself rather than your landlord. You can request an advance payment of UC if you will find it difficult to wait for your first payment, though this would need to be paid back within 6 or 12 months.
In Scotland new UC claimants will be offered the option of having their housing element paid direct to their landlord and this is what PHA would recommend. You also have the option of splitting your payments so that you receive two payments per month rather than one. These options are only offered in the second month of a claim so you would still have to make arrangements to pay your rent at the start of your claim.
Top Tips if claiming UC:
- Contact your Housing Officer to make arrangements to pay your rent.
- Remember to apply for Council Tax Reduction through Glasgow City Council as UC does not include any amount to cover Council Tax payments.
- If you do not understand how your award has been calculated, or your benefit is sanctioned or reduced for any other reason, contact our Money Advice Officer.
- If the housing element does not cover your full rent, apply for Discretionary Housing Payments through Glasgow City Council.
- If you are not sure whether you should be claiming UC contact our Money Advice Officer.
Our Money Advice Officer, Stephen Lawson, can be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com or by phone on: 0141 330 1487.