Do you receive any of the following benefits?

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits

If the answer is YES, and you’re of working age, then the way you receive your benefits is going to change, and you will need to be prepared for this.

Money Wise - Universal Credit

What is Universal Credit?

  • Universal Credit is a means tested benefit for people of a working age with a low income.
  • It will replace six existing benefits – including Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit – with a single monthly payment.
  • Universal Credit is broken down into different elements depending on your circumstances.
  • The ‘personal element’ is money that covers your living costs and your children’s living costs.
  • The ‘housing element’ is money that covers your rent.
  • If you make a new claim for benefits, or there is a change in your existing means-tested social security benefits or tax credits, you will have to go on to the new online portal for benefits.

How will these changes affect you?

If you have been getting Housing Benefit that is paid directly to Calico, this will no longer happen once Universal Credit is introduced. Instead, the monthly Universal Credit payment will include your rent, and you will have to make arrangements to pay this yourself.

There are a number of ways to pay your rent – the easiest way is to set up a monthly Direct Debit through your bank. You can speak to our Income Management team, who will help you set up a Direct Debit and discuss alternative ways to make
payments, if required.

How to prepare for Universal Credit

A = ACCOUNT

Get a bank account if you don’t have one.

It is very important that you have a bank account to ensure you are able to receive your Universal Credit payments. A bank account is also essential if you are going to pay your rent by Direct Debit or Standing Order.

B = BUDGET AND GET AHEAD

Plan for Universal Credit now to avoid problems in the future.

Using a budgeting plan (see over the page) now will help you to prepare for when you move across to monthly Universal Credit payments. This can also help you identify which of your debts are priority and which aren’t, and can highlight any areas where you could save yourself money.

We recommend that you try to get ahead with payments to your rent account, even if you currently receive full Housing Benefit. Paying as little as £2 per week to prepare for Universal Credit will help to reduce the amount of arrears on your account whilst you wait for your claim to come into payment.

If you currently receive Council Tax Benefi t, you will also need to call into your local Council offices and complete a form for Council Tax Support to be paid alongside Universal Credit, as this will not be included in your monthly housing element.

C = CALL

Get in touch if you need support.

Please contact our Income Management team on 01282 686300 to find our more about your options whilst you wait for your claim to come into payment.

Other things to consider

  • You will need to have a valid email address. If you don’t have one, you can sign up with Live or Google.
  • If you’re using your mobile, download a PDF converter from your phone’s App Store. This will allow you to take a picture of any supporting documents and upload them easily to the online portal.

Your easy ABC to avoid debt

Universal Credit claim process

1) Complete online claim form at www.gov.uk/universalcredit

2) Upload supporting evidence through your online portal and communicate with your work coach through the online journal.

3) Call your Rent Officer on 01282 686300 to inform them that you have made a claim for Universal Credit.

4) It will now take up to seven weeks for your Universal Credit claim to come into payment. Once you have submitted a claim for Universal Credit, all other means-tested benefits will no longer be paid.

5) Once your claim comes into payment, you will now be paid on the same date each month.

6) If your personal circumstances change at any stage, you must update your circumstances once they have taken place through your online portal.

You can contact our Income Management team at any point during the claim process for support – simply call 01282 686300, or email incomemanagement@calico.org.uk

Additional support

If you feel like your financial situation is getting out of control, there are a number of things you can do:

  • Speak to the Job Centre about getting your rent paid directly to us – call them on 0845 6043719
  • Find out more about Universal Credit by visiting www.gov.uk/universalcredit
  • Ask to be referred to our Money Wise team for help with debts, budgeting and benefits – call them on 01282 686300 or email moneywise@calico.org.uk or visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk to access the budget planner
  • Contact your local Citizens Advice representative – call 01282 450535
  • Contact Shelter on 0344 515 1831
  • Contact Step Change Debt Charity on 0800 138 1111
  • Speak to Welfare Rights by calling 0845 053 0013
  • Visit the YouTube walkthrough video.

What will happen if you fall in to rent arrears?

You should always speak to us if you are having trouble paying your rent. If you find that you have fallen into rent arrears, you should:

  • Contact your rent offi cer as soon as possible
  • Always open letters and return any missed calls from Calico staff.

Any agreement you make to reduce rent arrears needs to be realistic based on your current income and circumstances. Make an agreement you can stick to, rather than agreeing to pay an unrealistic amount, which will lead to you falling even further into arrears.

Your claim can take up to seven weeks – your rent account and other bills may fall into arrears while this is going through. Now is the time to start planning.