Renfrewshire Council

What to know about Universal Credit

Universal Credit: what is it and what you need to know

Here's our handy guide to Universal Credit.

Universal Credit (UC) full service goes live in Renfrewshire on Wednesday (19 September). UC replaces six benefits and tax credits with a single monthly payment. These are:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseekers Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits

Here's what you need to know.

 

1. You don't need to claim unless you have a change in circumstances

If you currently receive any of the above six benefits or tax credits, you won't need to do anything until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) ask you to unless you have a change in circumstances.

If you have a change in circumstances, you should seek advice on whether you need to apply for Universal Credit as you may have a choice. Let your work coach know in the first instance.

You should also get advice as soon as you can. Contact Advice Works on 0300 300 1238, Advice Renfrewshire on 0800 164 2922 or Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau on 0141 889 2121. To visit their websites, see 'related links'.

If you do need to claim Universal Credit, click on apply for Universal Credit under 'related links'.

 

2. You need to apply for Universal Credit if you make a new claim

If you don't currently claim any of the above six benefits and tax credits and find that you do need to make a claim on or after Wednesday, you will need to apply for Universal Credit.

You should go to the UK Government's website to make a claim - see apply for Universal Credit under 'related links'.

You should also get advice as soon as you can. Contact Advice Works on 0300 300 1238, Advice Renfrewshire on 0800 164 2922 or Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau on 0141 889 2121. To visit their websites, see 'related links'.

 

3. Housing benefit is now part of your Universal Credit claim

If you claim Universal Credit, your housing costs will normally be a part of your claim and you will no longer approach the Council to apply for Housing Benefit. If this applies to you, make sure you apply for housing costs when you make or maintain your Universal Credit claim.

There are a few exemptions, such as:

  • Claimants who have reached Pension Age
  • Claimants who live in supported exempt accommodation
  • Claimants who live in temporary accommodation
  • Claimants who have 3 or more children and have not claimed UC in the last 6 months (this exception will be removed after January 2019)

In these cases, you should continue to apply for Housing Benefit through the Council.

If your Universal Credit award includes housing costs, you must arrange for this to be paid to your landlord.

 

4. You need to apply and maintain your UC claim online

Your claim for Universal Credit only starts when you submit your application. You should make your claim as soon as possible to ensure you are entitled to receive the benefit from when your change in circumstances happened.

If you need support to make your claim, you should:

  • Contact your work coach or local Jobcentre Plus
  • Call the Council's Customer Services team on 0300 300 1422

You can also learn the basics of digital skill by booking an appointment with a digital volunteer - known as a Digiteer - at one of Renfrewshire's libraries to get some digital skills. See book a free lesson on going online under 'related links'.

You can also:

  • Use free public wifi is available in Johnstone and Renfrew town centres as well as inside public areas of Renfrewshire House.
  • Book a public computer at your local library or pop into your local Jobcentre Plus.
  • Drop into Renfrewshire House and 5 High Street in Paisley as well as Johnstone Town Hall to use public computers set up there.

 

5. Be prepared to wait for your money

It takes five to six weeks for you to receive money after making a claim for Universal Credit.

If you find you need extra financial support during this time, look into claiming for a Crisis Grant. Contact the Scottish Welfare Fund on 0300 300 0204 or scottishwelfarefund@renfrewshire.gov.uk.

You can also read more information on Apply for a Crisis Grant under 'related articles'.

 

6. Remember, you can claim for a Council Tax Reduction

You can get help with the costs of Council Tax from us. Call 0300 300 0204 or email benefits.finit@renfrewshire.gov.uk. You can also find a link to apply for a council tax discount or exemption under 'related articles'.

 

If we didn't answer your question or you need more support, visit our Universal Credit section of the website - see 'related articles'.

Updated: Wednesday 19 September 2018.

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