As Sunderland has became a live area for Universal Credit – from last week – the next few advice columns will be focusing on some of the common queries concerning this new benefit.
Below is a basic overview of what this means for claimants in the Sunderland area. Universal Credit will only apply for new benefit claims.
If you currently receive one of the benefits Universal Credit replaces you won’t need to make a claim or be switched to the benefit until the DWP advises you or there are significant changes in your circumstances. Universal Credit will replace: 1) Income Support; 2) Income Based Job Seekers Allowance; 3) Income Based Employment and Support Allowance; 4) Housing Benefit (whether you are a social tenant or private tenant); 5) Child Tax & Working Tax Credit. It can also be paid if you work but will decrease the more you earn (for example if you are on a zero hours contract, have regular overtime, etc). Help will also be available for things such as child care costs. Help towards the cost of your council tax is still available but is not included as part of the Universal Credit scheme and you still need to claim this separately with the council. Universal Credit is intended to be simpler than the current system of benefits and tax credits. Universal Credit is paid on a monthly basis. Entitlement is worked out by comparing your basic financial needs that the Government says you need to live on with your financial resources. You don’t need to do anything if you are already claiming existing benefits. You will be told by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) when you have to claim Universal Credit.