Universal Credit FAQs

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is the latest of the Government welfare reforms and introduces a new benefit for people who are on a low income or are out of work.

It is a benefit which will be administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) through Job Centre Plus, it will not be administered by the Council.

Universal Credit is replacing six current benefits and tax credits with one single monthly payment. It includes support for the costs of housing, children and childcare, as well as support for disabled people and carers.  The housing costs element will replace the current Housing Benefit for new claimants which is currently administered by the Council – this will also now be administered by the Job Centre Plus.

Payment of universal Credit will be monthly, in arrears and paid direct to the claimsnt into a bank account

Universal Credit is being introduced in several stages across the country, Birmingham is in Stage One of the national roll out and the current benefits that this new Credit is replacing are:

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

When does it start in Birmingham?

New single claimants of income based Job Seekers Allowance  will be able to apply for Universal Credit in Birmingham from 13 April 2015.

Who is affected by this?

Universal Credit is being phased in gradually and only new claims from single unemployed customers will be taken in Birmingham from 13 April 2015.  There will also be a number of “knock out” factors for new claimants during the first phase of the roll out so that only the very simplest of claims will qualify and this will be determined when a new claim is made as part of the on-line claiming process that the DWP have put in place.

If you are unsure if you are affected or eligible to make a claim please visit the Universal Credit website at www.gov.uk/universalcredit.

Further plans to roll out Universal Credit to couples and families will be announced in the future and after the General Election

Where do I go if I need to make a claim?

Universal Credit can only be claimed online using the Department for Work and Pensions website, which means you can make a claim at a time that is convenient for you. You can make your claim online at www.gov.uk/universalcredit.

Support is available to help you get online if you are unable to do so yourself.  Your local Jobcentre can provide access to the internet or tell you about local places where you can use the internet for free. You can also make the claim using a mobile device such as a smart phone or tablet. The City Council is also working in conjunction with the DWP and local Job Centre Plus to work out how to provide help for people who are unable to claim themselves.

There is a DWP  helpline if you need help making your claim online.

Telephone: 0345 600 0723

Text phone: 0345 600 0743

There is also a lot of help about making the claim on the DWP website at www.gov.uk/universal-credit

Also the Universal Credit frequently asked questions website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/universal-credit-frequently-asked-questions

What do I need in order to make a claim ?

In order to make a claim for Universal Credit claimants will need the following information:

  • your postcode
  • your National Insurance number
  • details of the bank, building society or Post Office account you want Universal Credit paid into, without one you will not be eligible for Universal Credit.
  • Your rent statement  (if you have one).
  • details of your savings or other capital details of any income that’s not from work, e.g. from an insurance plan details of any other benefits you’re getting
  • Details of any other benefits you are claiming.

How long will it take for a claim to be processed?

It will take about 40 minutes to complete your claim form online.

As Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, if the claim is successful, the  first payment won’t be made for about 6 weeks after you make your claim

What previous benefits does this cover?

(See Q1)

What do I do if I don’t get the money I am expecting?

The Department for Work and Pensions are responsible for the payment of Universal Credit claims. You should contact your local Job Centre Plus f you think your Universal Credit is wrong.

Who is processing the claims?

The Department for Work and Pensions are responsible for the processing of Universal Credit claims.

What is the Council’s role in this?

The Council will work with the DWP in the run up to the launch of Universal Creidt in Birmingham to work out the best way to provide some support for those first time claimants in most need, making the transition to Universal Credit.

This includes providing help to people making the claim if they are unable to do so themselves and providing personal budgeting support where this particular need is identified by Job Centre Plus work coaches.

How is the Council resourcing/funding this?

The Council will not fund the support it provides to Universal Credit claimants – instead the DWP are providing some funding to the Council to  to provide this support.

The final details of this are still being worked out as part of the joint working between the Council and the DWP in the run up to the launch of Universal Credit.