Universal Credit has changed in Moray from 27 June 2018. From this date Universal Credit Full Service starts. When Universal Credit started in November 2015, the scheme only affected single people without children who live in Moray. Under Universal Credit Full Service, the scheme is open to single people, couples and families with or without children; people can be in work, unemployed or unable to work due to illness or disability.
Universal Credit is a working-age benefit paid by the Department for Work and Pensions. It replaces the following benefits.
• Income Support
• Jobseekers Allowance (income based)
• Employment Support Allowance (income related)
• Working Tax Credits
• Child Tax Credits
• Housing Benefit
If you receive any of these benefits you do not have to do anything now. However, if your circumstances change after 27 June 2018, you may need to apply for Universal Credit.
If you already get Universal Credit, the Department for Work and Pensions will be in touch with you when they are ready to transfer you over to the full service process.
Help to claim Universal Credit
Claims for Universal Credit are made online through a digital application process. It can be done using a computer, tablet or smartphone and many people will find it straightforward. You can view the claim process on www.youtube.com/UniversalCreditinAction
From 01 April 2019, the Citizens Advice Bureau can help with claims. Contact them by:
- Telephone: 0800 023 2581 (free phone national number)
- Webchat: https://www.cas.org.uk/helptoclaim
- Online: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/scotland/benefits/universal-credit/
- Visit: Moray Citizens Advice Bureau, 6 Moss Street, Elgin, IV30 1LU
If you are unable to apply for Universal Credit yourself and do not have someone that can help or act on your behalf, or if you are unable to access help locally due to illness or disability, contact the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 9344.
Getting Ready to claim Universal Credit
First you need to create an online account. This is not your Universal Credit claim. To create an account you will need:
- an email address
- a mobile telephone number
When setting up your account you will be asked to create:
- a username
- a password
- and choose 2 security questions
An email will automatically be sent to you to confirm your account is set up. If you have a partner, you must each create separate accounts. These will be joined together later in the process.
Once your account is created you can now make a claim for Universal Credit. You have 28 days to submit your claim. The date you submit your claim is the date Universal Credit starts.
Handy things to have ready before you start your claim:
- Address and postcode
- Family details (who lives with you)
- Rent costs (tenancy agreement) and contact details of your landlord
- Mortgage payments (latest statement from mortgage provider)
- Wages (payslips)
- Other income, savings and investments
- Bank, building society or credit union account (to receive Universal Credit payments)
You will also be asked to verify your identity. You can do this online using GOV.UK Verify, or you must book an appointment at the Jobcentre to bring in 2 documents from the list below.
- Photo driving licence
- National identity card
- Residence permit or card
- Immigration status document
- Registration or naturalisation certificate
- Birth, marriage or civil partnership certificate
- Council tax statement
- NHS medical card
- Recent bank statement
- Debit or charge card
- Rent card or tenancy agreement
Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears which means most people have to wait around 5 weeks for their first payment.
An Advance Payment can be made before the first payment if a person is struggling financially. Up to 100% of the first payment can be paid in advance. However advance payments must be paid back and deductions will be made from future Universal Credit payments for a period up to 12 months.
A Budgeting Advance can help with a one-off expense such as the cost of starting employment or self-employment, an essential household item, rent in advance or moving home expenses.
The Scotland Act 2016 gave the Scottish Government powers to vary how Universal Credit is paid in Scotland. The “Scottish Choices” for people claiming Universal Credit are to:
• Be paid monthly or twice monthly; and
• Have housing costs (rent) paid to themselves or to their landlord.
The Scottish Choices are available after the first payment of Universal Credit. You can make one or both choices.
If you need to change your payments you must contact the Department for Work and Pensions.
Paying your rent
If you rent your home, your housing costs will be taken into account in your Universal Credit claim and any Housing Benefit you may have received will end, as you cannot receive both benefits.
However, if you have been placed in temporary accommodation by the council due to homelessness or stay in supported accommodation, you can still claim Housing Benefit for your housing costs as Universal Credit does not currently cover these accommodation types.
Landlords can request payments of Universal Credit to be made to them when rent arrears of 8 weeks or more exist. You can request payments to be made to your landlord through the “Scottish Choices” (see above).
The Universal Credit award letter that is sent out by the Department for Work and Pensions provides a breakdown of the different elements you and your householders are entitled to. If the housing costs element does not cover your rent in full, you can apply to the council for Discretionary Housing Payments.
If you are a council tenant you can also contact your Housing Officer for advice on Universal Credit and paying your rent. Other housing providers such as Housing Associations may also provide support and advice on Universal Credit.
Personal Budgeting Support
Some people will need help managing their money through Universal Credit. The Council’s Income Maximisation team can provide personal budgeting support to help you to maximise your income, manage monthly payments and keep on top of your bills.
To make an appointment, call 0300 123 4563.
If you get regular help from the council or another support service (for example, social worker, housing officer, Jobcentre work-coach) they can make a referral to the Income Maximisation Team on your behalf with your consent.
You will still have to apply to the council for other benefits such as Council Tax Reduction, Free School Meals, Educational Clothing Grant and Educational Maintenance Allowance. You will also have to notify the council of any changes in your circumstances that may affect your entitlement to these benefits, even if you have already notified the Department for Work and Pensions.
More information and support
To get more information on Universal Credit go to www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk If you need further information on job-seeking, working, self-employment, sickness or disability go to www.gov.uk/universal-credit or see the Universal Credit & You guidance.
Universal Credit full service helpline 0800 328 5644. Textphone: 0800 328 1344. Open Monday to Friday,8am to 6pm.
Money Advice Moray 0300 123 4561, email@example.com
Moray Citizens Advice Bureau 01343 550 088, firstname.lastname@example.org
Moray Foodbank 01343 208 293, email@example.com
REAP – Energy Saving Advice 01542 888 070, firstname.lastname@example.org