Help! My benefits are changing to Universal Credit

If you are currently receiving certain benefits, you may have heard that they will soon be changing to Universal Credit.

The main reason for this, according to the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) is to update the current benefit system into one more suited to the 21st century.

You may understandably be concerned about this. However, the DWP has calculated that more people will be better off than worse off because of these changes. And if you are worse off, you will be eligible for a top-up payment known as “transitional protection”.

But it’s important to understand what is happening when, and what you need to do to make sure that your benefits continue during the changes.

So in this article we take a quick look at:

  • Which benefits are being replaced;
  • When you need to apply for Universal Credit;
  • How to apply for Universal Credit;
  • How much money you will get with Universal Credit.

Which benefits are being replaced

The DWP aims to replace all the following legacy benefits for people of working age with Universal Credit by the end of 2024:

  • Child Tax Credit;
  • Housing Benefit;
  • Income Support;
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA);
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA);
  • Working Tax Credit.

Other legacy benefits – for example Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – not on the above list will not be affected by these changes.

When you need to apply for Universal Credit

There are 2.6 million people currently receiving one or more of the above list of benefits. They will all be transferred to Universal Credit by the end of 2024.

However, you do NOT need to do anything until you receive a letter from the DWP to tell you to do so. In fact, if you apply too early for Universal Credit, you may not be eligible for the transitional protection payment we mentioned earlier.

So the best thing to do is to wait until your letter from the DWP – known as a Migration Notice – arrives. It will explain what you have to do and give you a deadline – usually three months – in which to apply for Universal Credit.

It is essential that you then apply for Universal Credit by the given deadline. Otherwise you may stop receiving financial support.

But how do you do this? Let’s take a look.

How to apply for Universal Credit

Here are the five main things you need to know:

  • Where to apply

You can either apply for Universal Credit either online or by phone:

  • Apply for Universal Credit online

You will firstly have to set up an account and can then apply online on the Gov UK website .

  • Apply for Universal Credit by phone

Call the Universal Credit Migration Notice helpline on 0800 169 0328.

  • Single and joint applications

If you live with a partner, you will need to make a joint application for Universal Credit. You cannot claim by yourself if this is the case. The application will take into account both of your financial circumstances.

  • The information you will need

You will need access to the following information when you apply:

  • Some proof of identity eg a driving licence, passport, debit or credit card;
  • Details of your bank, building society or credit union account;
  • An email address;
  • Details of your regular income plus any savings that you have;
  • Costs of childcare (if you’re applying for help with childcare costs).
  • Your Work Capability Assessment (WCA) 

If you have already completed a WCA – for example if you have been assessed whilst claiming ESA ( Employment and Support Allowance) – you will not need another WCA.

However, if your WCA is due for a review, you will need to have another WCA assessment as part of the process of claiming Universal Credit.

  • How to get help with your Universal Credit application

There are dedicated Citizens Advice Bureau helplines available to provide information and help for those applying for Universal Credit for the first time. They are:

  • England – 0800 144 8444
  • Scotland – 0800 023 2581 
  • Wales – 08000 241 220

How much money you will get with Universal Credit.

Your Universal Credit will be paid once a month into your bank, building society or credit union account. The exact amount of Universal Credit you will receive is based on a variety of factors including your age, your financial circumstances (for example, if you are working), and whether you are making a single or joint application. 

The table below shows the standard Monthly Universal Credit allowances for 2022-2023:

Monthly Universal Credit standard allowances 2022-2023
Single person Aged under 25 £265.31
Aged 25 or over £334.91
Couple Both aged under 25 £416.45 
One or both aged 25 or over £525.72

 

However, you may also be eligible for additional payments for different circumstances. For example if: 

 

  • You have children;
  • You are a carer;
  • You are unable to work for health reasons.

The exact amount will be worked out, taking all the above factors into accounts. But you can get an initial idea of how much Universal Credit you will receive by using one of the following benefit calculators:

We hope that the above information helps you to understand more about how your benefits are changing to Universal Credit, and what you need to do about it.

If at any stage you are short of money because of a delay in receiving benefits, remember that Loans 2 Go offer an emergency loan which may be able to fill the gap.

For more financial and lifestyle tips check back here with us soon at Loans 2 Go.