Universal Credit Update 8/112016
Universal Credit is now available in all Jobcentre Plus areas for those who meet ‘gateway conditions’, including being fit for work and, in most areas, a single person. In ‘full-service’ areas there are no gateway conditions and anyone of working age wanting to make a new claim for a means-tested benefit will have to claim Universal Credit.
Those already receiving Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit or Housing Benefit (the ‘legacy benefits’) can continue to receive them, so long as they do not make a new claim for a new means-tested benefit, for example following a change of circumstances. Under current plans, Universal Credit full service is to be available to all Jobcentre Plus areas by September 2018.
Universal Credit is a single payment, paid in arrears, which will be paid directly into the bank accounts of eligible working age households on a monthly basis, electronically. Implementation began in 2013 with full implementation achieved by 2017.
The Government hopes that Universal Credit will help claimants and their families to become more independent and will simplify the benefits system by bringing together a range of working-age benefits into a single streamlined payment
The new Universal Credit system aims to:
- Improve work incentives.
- Smooth the transitions into and out of work, supporting a dynamic labour market.
- Simplify the system, making it easier for people to understand, and easier and cheaper for staff to administer.
- Reduce in-work poverty.
- Cut back on fraud and error.
Why is it being introduced?
- To simplify the current benefit system.
- Reduce costs in administration of current benefit system.
- Make Work Pay – more help for people on low incomes.
- Claimants keep more of what they earn.
- Improve incentives to increase hours of work.
- Simplified system – making move to work less ‘risky’.
When is it being introduced?
Universal Credit was introduced into West Dunbartonshire Residents from 9th March 2015.
Universal Credit was introduced into Argyll and Bute on March 7 2016.
Those who will be directly affected from 9/3/2015?
- New Single claimants aged 18 – 61
- Not responsible for any children
- Not receiving any Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment
- Renting their home from the Local Authority or Housing Association
- Available for and actively looking for employment
- Have capital below £6000
- Have no other income coming in
A full list of eligibility criteria is available on http://www.gov.uk/universal-credit
Those not affected at present
- Responsible for children
- Unable to work due to sickness/disability or caring responsibilities
- Presently in supported or temporary accommodation
- Own their property
- Have capital in excess of £6000
- Have earnings or other income in payment
The main differences between Universal Credit and the current welfare system are:
- Universal Credit will be available to people who are in work and on a low income, as well as to those who are out of work.
- Most people will apply online and manage their claim through an online account.
- Universal Credit will be responsive, as people on low incomes move in and out of work, they’ll get on-going support – giving people more incentive to work for any period of time that is available.
- Most claimants on low incomes will still be paid Universal Credit when they first start a new job or increase their part-time hours.
- Claimants will receive just one monthly payment, paid into a bank
- account in the same way as a monthly salary
- Support with housing costs will go direct to the claimant as part of their monthly payment. If you are eligible for Universal Credits, all of your benefits will be paid direct to you and you will be responsible for paying rent to Dunbritton.
Dealing with Universal Credit Payments
Living costs including housing payments are paid directly to claimants. Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs) can also be considered for some claimants who genuinely can’t manage their monthly payments. This might include having their rent paid directly to the landlord or the tenant being paid weekly/fortnightly. Claimants will also be offered Personal budgeting support. In West Dunbartonshire, Job Coaches can refer directly to Working 4 U who offer this support through Universal Support.
*When a person makes a claim for Universal Credit they will remain on this benefit for the foreseeable future, even if their circumstances change*.
For Tenants in arrears
DWP has introduced a new scheme of “Third Party Payments” (TPPs) for Universal Credit. Landlords will be able to apply for TPPs from tenants’ Universal Credit, at a rate of 20% of their Standard Allowance, although in most cases, the deduction is likely to be capped at 10-15% due to other debts. These deductions are not automatic and landlords have to demonstrate that it is in the interests of the tenant or their dependents & that the landlords own attempts to secure recovery has proven unsuccessful, eh broken arrangements, history of late payments will suffice. The level is at least 2 months arrears & once set up will continue until the debt is cleared.
What happens to TPPs when sanctions are imposed?
In the case of rent arrears and fuel debts, DWP can still continue to make deductions, even where there is a 100% sanction applied to the tenants Standard Allowance. Continuing deductions, in this way, is designed to protect the tenancy and avoid fuel supply from being disconnected.