Universal credit

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new type of benefit for working age people who are on a low income or out of work. It is paid by a single payment monthly in arrears and is replacing:

  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

Knowsley residents making a new claim for one of these benefits may now be directed to claim Universal Credit.

Get ready for Universal Credit

The Universal Credit Personal Planner can help you to prepare.

  • Claims should be made online; you’ll need an email address
  • Most people will receive a single monthly payment, paid in arrears, transferred directly into a bank, building society or credit union account
  • Each household will receive one monthly payment, so couples who both claim will receive a single payment between them
  • It includes any help you get with your rent so you’ll need to pay rent to your landlord yourself.  The amount you receive for your rent might not cover the full amount, so if there’s a shortfall between the rent you pay and the amount you receive, you’ll need to pay this yourself as well

Visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit to find out who can claim, how to claim, the amount you could receive and more.

If you’re already claiming any of the benefits which will be included in Universal Credit, you don’t need to do anything at the moment; your local Job Centre will contact you to let you know when you’ll be moving to Universal Credit.

Getting online

  • You can use computers free of charge in a number of places across Knowsley including Council One Stop Shops, libraries and DWP Jobcentres
  • Visit My Neighbourhood on the Knowsley Council website to find where you can ‘Get online’ with access to computers, Wi-Fi and digital skills sessions

Help to get online

  • Courses are available across the borough, many free of charge.  Contact FACE (Family and Community Education Service) on (0151) 443 2026
  • Get Connected can help you get online, search for the best internet deals, set up an email account and open bank accounts.  Call (0151) 546 0470

Bank, Building Society or Credit Union accounts

  • If you rent from a Social Landlord they can help you open an account ready for your Universal Credit to be paid.  Get Connected will also help you open an account

Moving to monthly payments

Many find the initial change to monthly payments difficult, even if they are good at budgeting. You will have to wait at least 6 or 7 weeks until you get your first Universal Credit payment, so it can take a while for your finances to fall into place.

As Universal Credit includes any help you get with your rent, each monthly payment should cover your rent, any Council Tax you need to pay and all your other bills and expenses.  Websites such as the Money Advice Service can help you work out the changes you’ll need to make.  Once you have claimed Universal Credit, you will be offered Personal Budgeting Support; financial advice just for you. Use this to make sure your finances are ready for the move to Universal Credit and that you are able to manage large payments, such as your rent, while you’re waiting for your first monthly Universal Credit payment. 

If you’d prefer to meet with someone in person to get face to face budgeting support, contact:
 

All contact is free, confidential and tailored to your needs.

If you’re concerned about debt, Citizens Advice Knowsley can help and will check you’re getting the right benefits.  You can also talk to Prescot and Whiston Community Advice or Centre 63 about benefits you could be entitled to.

 


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Making your claim for Universal Credit

Claims have to be made online – https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit.

You will need to set up a ‘Universal Credit account’ to make your claim.  This video explains how to apply.  

Getting online

  • You can use computers free of charge in a number of places across Knowsley including Council One Stop Shops, libraries and DWP Jobcentres
  • Visit My Neighbourhood on the Knowsley Council website to find where you can ‘Get online’ with access to computers, Wi-Fi and digital skills sessions

Help to get online

  • Courses are available across the borough, many free of charge.  Contact FACE (Family and Community Education Service) on (0151) 443 2026

Get Connected can help you get online, search for the best internet deals, set up an email account and open bank accounts.  Call (0151) 546 0470. 

What documents do I need to make a claim?

It should take you between 20 and 40 minutes to complete your claim – if you stop filling in your claim for up to 20 minutes, the system will time out and you’ll need to start again.  So make sure you have all the information you need with you before you start.

You will need:

  • Your postcode
  • National Insurance number
  • Details of the bank, building society or credit union you’d like your Universal Credit paid into
  • Your rent agreement (if you have one)
  • Details of any savings, other capital or income that’s not from work (for example from an insurance plan)
  • Details of any other benefits you receive
  • Details of your children, including their Child Benefit numbers
  • If you pay for childcare, you’ll need your providers reference number (you can ask them for it)

If you need help to complete your claim, call the Universal Credit Helpline on 0345 600 0723

A claim for Universal Credit will automatically end any existing Council Tax Reduction you might be receiving from Knowsley Council.  To keep receiving this, or if you think you might be entitled and haven’t claimed before, you must make a separate claim for Council Tax Reduction straight away.  To claim, visit Knowsley Council’s website.  Any delay in submitting a claim could lead to Council Tax arrears. 

What happens after I’ve made my claim for Universal Credit?

Depending on your circumstances, you may have to wait 7 days after making your claim before your entitlement to Universal Credit starts.  You will not receive any benefit for this period.  To find out if this affects you, visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/how-to-claim
 
If your application is successful, you’ll be asked to attend an interview with your Work Coach at your Jobcentre.  You’ll receive a letter explaining which documents you will need to take with you.  You must attend this interview to receive Universal Credit.

At this interview you’ll agree your ‘Claimant Commitment’.  This lists what you’ll need to do to receive Universal Credit.  If you don’t keep to the actions, you may receive a sanction (a reduction in the amount of benefit you receive).

If your claim is successful, you’ll receive a letter explaining when you’ll receive your payment and how much it will be.  The first payment is usually made around 6 to 7 weeks after you made your claim.  You’ll then receive your payments at the same time each month.

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Managing your claim for Universal Credit

Many find the change to monthly payments difficult until their finances fall into place, even if they are good at budgeting.  Make sure you take advantage of the support that is available to you.  All Universal Credit claimants are entitled to:

Receive Personal Budgeting Support

  • What is it? Confidential, one to one financial advice for you.  Designed to help you take control of your budget, including:
    • Setting up a monthly budget
    • Budgeting advice to help make your money go further
    • Identifying priority debts which must be paid first
    • Different ways of paying your bills
  • Is it right for me? Yes! - for advice on reducing your outgoings, shifting to a monthly budget and making your money go further
  • How do I get it? Your Work Coach will ask if you want Personal Budgeting Support but you can ask for this at any time – say Yes!  The service is provided through Citizens Advice Knowsley and Knowsley Housing Trust

Ask for an Advance Payment

  • What is it? Many find the 6 week wait for their first payment difficult, especially if rent is due.  You can ask to receive some of your first payment early to help you manage.  Your regular Universal Credit payments will be lower until this is repaid.
  • Is it right for me? Yes, if you’ll find it difficult to wait between 6 and 7 weeks for your first payment.
  • How do I get it? You must ask for an Advance Payment during your ‘assessment period’ – this is the period during which your entitlement to Universal Credit is worked out.  It lasts for 1 month and starts 1 week after you make your claim (if you are new to UC and have a ‘waiting period’ – see ‘What happens after I’ve made my claim for Universal Credit’ above).  You must do this at least 3 days before the end of this period.  Make sure you understand when you can claim your Advance Payment and don’t miss the deadline.  Ring the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723 or speak to your Work Coach to make sure you don’t miss out.

Ask for an Alternative Payment Arrangement

  • What is it? If a single monthly payment could cause you problems and you’re worried about managing, this lets you:
    • Request the money for your rent goes direct to your landlord (called a Managed Payment)
    • Receive payments more often than monthly
    • Get payments split between you and your partner (if you’re both claiming)
  • Is it right for me? Not everyone will get this, but you’re more likely to if you have rent arrears or a history of arrears, numeracy/literacy difficulties, serious debts, a mental health condition, live in temporary accommodation/are homeless or have alcohol, drug or gambling problems
  • How do I get it?  You can ask for any of these arrangements at any point in your claim.  Ask your Work Coach or call the Universal Credit Helpline on 0345 600 0723

Other help and support

  • Emergency Food - Knowsley Foodbank
  • Debt advice – free and confidential advice Citizens Advice Knowsley
  • Looking for credit – To ease the change to Universal Credit contact Enterprise or Knowsley Mutual Credit Unions.  They offer low interest credit and may lend to new members
  • Affected by Illegal money lending – anyone who lends without a licence is an illegal lender.  Often they charge huge interest rates and can resort to violence and intimidation to get their money.  If you’re affected or know someone who is, contact the team anonymously on 0300 555 2222 or text 07860 022116
  • Work or training - alongside support through Jobcentre Plus, many local services can help you find work:​
    • Knowsley Works – job search, work clubs, apprenticeships, career guidance, IT and interview skills
    • Next Steps – CVs, interview skills and help finding work/training
    • Centre 63 – housing, debt, benefits, digital support for 16-25 year olds
  • If you rent from a Registered Social Landlord such as Knowsley Housing Trust or Villages Housing, they can help you prepare for getting online, opening a bank or credit union account or budgeting

Checklist for new Universal Credit Claimants

  • You’ll be offered ‘Personal Budgeting Support’ when you meet your Work Coach at the Jobcentre.  Say ‘yes’ for support tailored for you
  • Ask for an ‘Advance Payment’ to ease the change to monthly payments if this could cause you any difficulties
  • If you think an ‘Alternative Payment Arrangement’ is right for you, talk to your Work Coach or call the Universal Credit Helpline on 0345 600 0723
  • Make sure you have payments set up with your landlord to pay your rent.  If you’re not sure how to do this, get in touch with them straight away.  Delays could lead to arrears.  If your payments don’t cover all of your rent, you’ll need to make up the shortfall yourself
  • A claim for UC will automatically end any existing Council Tax Reduction you receive from Knowsley Council.  You must make a separate new claim through Knowsley Council’s website, www.knowsley.gov.uk even if you were claiming Council Tax Reduction when you made your claim for Universal Credit
  • Paying housing costs (rent and Council Tax) is a priority.  Your landlord can check you’re receiving the benefits you’re entitled to and help you manage debts.  Keep in touch with them. If you’re concerned about paying your Council Tax, you can find information and advice here

Local and national services that can help

 
Who What they do Get in touch
Citizens Advice Knowsley Free advice on money, benefits, housing and legal issues.
Provide free ‘Personal Budgeting Support’ if you’re claiming UC
Adviceline 0344 826 9694
Nutgrove Villa, Huyton L36 6NA
2 Newtown Gardens, Kirkby L32 8RR
Halewood Centre, Halewood L26 9UH
www.citizensadviceknowsley.org.uk
Centre 63 Housing, welfare benefits and debt advice to 16-25 year olds. www.centre63.org.uk
0151 549 1494
Old Hall Lane, Kirkby L32 5TH
Enterprise Credit Union Low cost loans, savings and insurance. Offer credit union accounts.  Branches in Huyton, Prescot and Halewood. www.enterprisecreditunion.org
0151 482 0177
FACE
Family and Community Education
Adult education courses including digital skills.  Many are free. www.knowsleyface.co.uk
0151 443 2026
Get Connected Help to get online, set up email and search/shop for deals www.big-help.info
Part of the Big Help Project
0151 546 0470
Illegal Money Lending Team Tackle loan sharks and help those affected.  Get in touch anonymously. Confidential help Call the helpline anonymously 0300 555 2222 or text 07860 022116
Jobcentre Plus Ask for Personal Budgeting Support, an Advance Payment or Alternative Payment Arrangements 0345 604 3719
Huyton – Edendale House, Lathom Road, Huyton L36 9XS
Kirkby – St Chad’s House, St Chad’s Drive, Kirkby L32 8RW
Belle Vale – Crown Building, 302 Childwall Valley Road, Liverpool L25
Knowsley Housing Trust KHT’s Welfare Reform Team can help you open a bank or credit union account, get online and budget for the changes www.k-h-t.org
0151 290 7916
Knowsley Council Apply for Council Tax Reduction and find PCs, Wi-Fi and digital training locally www.knowsley.gov.uk
Call 0151 489 6000
Knowsley Foodbank Emergency food for 3 days, accessed through a voucher (held by organisations across the borough) www.big-help.info
info@knowsley.foodbank.info
0151 546 0470
Knowsley Mutual Credit Union Low cost loans, savings and insurance. Offer credit union accounts.  Based in Kirkby. www.knowsleymutualcu.co.uk
0151 545 3380
Knowsley Works Help to get back into work (job search and training).  Call into their offices or ring. 43 Derby Rd, Huyton L36 9UQ
0151 443 5010
Kirkby Centre, Kirkby, L32 8XY
0151 443 4780
Next Steps Employment project run by the Big Help Project.  1-1 help (CVs, interview training) www.big-help.info
0151 546 0470
Universal Credit Helpline Ask for Advance Payments, Alternative Payment Arrangements or Personal Budgeting Support 0345 600 0723
Open 8 - 6 Monday to Friday
Villages Housing Association Help for Villages tenants with opening bank/credit union accounts and getting online. www.villages.org.uk
0151 480 1313

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Useful DWP websites