Universal Credit is being rolled out across the country and from December 2018 the rollout will be complete. We want to ensure the right support and information is available for residents to help with the transition.
Three headline changes come into effect this year, below is a brief description of the changes and where you can find out more.
- Reduced waiting times
The 7-day waiting period from the start of a claim is to be scrapped. This means entitlement will start from the date the application is received and should be processed within 4-5 weeks (claimants may experience different processing times).
- Changes to free school meals
On April the 1st there will be changes to some entitlement for free school meals.
If you are already on Universal Credit and claiming free school meals, nothing will change for you.
If you aren't on Universal Credit yet but moving to it in the future, there will be a an annual earnings threshold of £7,400 applied. If you earn more than this your child will not be eligible for free school meals. If you earn below your child will be eligible.
- Housing Benefit to continue for 2 weeks
To assist with rent arrears, new Universal Credit claimants who previously claimed Housing Benefit will receive an extra two weeks of rent entitlement. This change is a direct result of The DWP listening and understanding the impacts of the transition.
- Working with Universal Credit
Changes to surplus earnings may result in working people - who also claim Universal Credit - having to reapply more regularly to keep receiving payments.
These changes are more likely to affect those working as self-employed, part-time or on a zero hour contracts. This is due to the unpredictable nature of income.
Claimants who are subject to the above will have their income from the previous 6 months taken into account. This means, any earnings from this period that were over the Universal Credit threshold will count as surplus earnings.
This change impacts those with earnings that change month on month. If your monthly earnings ever exceed the threshold, it will count as a surplus. Continuous reviews will determine your entitlement, so it is important to budget the best you can to ensure payment of your rent and bills.
We are here to guide residents through the Universal Credit roll-out and to provide support throughout the transition. Please visit the Money Matters page on our website for help with budgeting and benefits or contact us for a referral.
To receive expert advice, we recommend the following resources:
https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit Access online guides to Universal Credit
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/universal-credit/ Independent advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau