Getting Ready For Universal Credit
1. Think about how you will budget monthly
Universal Credit is generally paid monthly and you may have other income coming in at different times during the month. Drawing up a budget of all your household income and outgoings is going to be important if you want to make sure you can pay all your bills and manage until the end of the month.
If you have debts, speak to a money adviser now about how you are going to manage your payments in the future under a monthly income and what you may need to do. For help with budgeting and/or debts, contact the FIT 4 Your Future project, or Citizens Advice Bureau near you, or look on www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk, www.stepchange.org or www.nationaldebtline.co.uk.
2. Consider how you will access the internet
You will be expected to claim Universal Credit and report changes in your circumstances online. Think about where you will be able to access the internet; this could be at your local library, community centre, Jobcentre or Local Authority. If you would like to improve your computer skills, you can also get help finding a course at your Jobcentre or local library. If you already have access to the internet, look online - there are free courses that will build your confidence.
3. Ensuring your rent is paid
When you move onto Universal Credit tell your landlord and make arrangements with them for how your rent will be paid. If you can, consider paying a little extra rent each week now, so that when you move onto Universal Credit and are paid monthly in arrears there is a ‘buffer’ on your rent account.
4. Do you need to open a new account?
If you don’t have a bank account, think about whether having one will help you to manage your bills and rent payments. See the information above on what the proper account for you may be.
5. Couples - can you claim Pension Credit?
If only one member of a couple is Pension Credit age, he/she will be expected to claim Universal Credit unless they are already getting Pension Credit. Talk to a Benefits Adviser or phone the Pension Service on 0800 991234 to find out if you qualify. If you are awarded Pension Credit, it (and any Housing Benefit) will continue as normal and you will not need to claim Universal Credit.
If in doubt, ask for help. Our Benefits Liaison Officer or a member of the FIT 4 Your Future team are on hand to help you through this transition. Please contact the Benefits Liaison Officer or the FIT 4 Your Future team on 0345 604 1472.
We have included a helpful Introduction to Universal Credit leaflet which contains some Frequently Asked Questions.