ne of the upsides of the 2020 pandemic has been the availability and subsequent de-stigmatisation of Universal Credit and income benefits. Record numbers of unemployed and furloughed people signed up for UC in the first month of the UK lockdown and the benefit continues to be available for those who are currently out of work.
Benefits of this kind are set up to help YOU — they are not something to look down on or see as a last resort. Universal Credit can give you some financial stability and take the pressure off the job search so that you can take the time to find something that’s right for you, and not just something to pay the bills!
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a monthly payment to help with your living costs; it was introduced as a sort of ‘umbrella’ benefit and now replaces other benefits such as Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance.
How to Sign Up
- Head over to www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit
- Create an account with a username and password
- Fill out the forms with your contact information
- Provide information about your income, housing (for example your rent), any savings and investments and any childcare costs you might have
- Your claim is processed, you may be contacted by email or phone if further information is needed.
“How long do I have to wait for the payment?”
Usually about one calendar month; the date you submit the claim is the date the payment should be made to you the next month so it can take up to 5 weeks to receive your first payment.
“How much will I get?”
This will depend on how much you spend monthly on utilities and living costs; it will also depend on if you currently live with a partner and if either of you are employed.
“What happens if I get a job/start earning more money?”
You will still receive UC even if you start a job or start increased hours at an existing job; the amount you receive will slowly reduce over time so that you don’t lose your benefits as you transition into work.
The DWP have a handy video explaining how this works:
“What if I have savings?”
If you (or your partner) have savings under £6000 this will not affect your claim; if you have between £6000 and £16000 there will be a reduction in your monthly benefit and if you have above £16000 in savings or investments you will not entitled to any benefits.
“Is there anywhere I can get help with my application?”
Absolutely! Citizens Advice has a dedicated helpline for those unsure in making their first claim, you can also visit their website and look for your local Citizens Advice centre.
Call 0800 144 8444 in England
Call 0800 024 1220 in Wales
For Scotland: https://www.cas.org.uk/helptoclaim