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Universal Credit

Since April 2013, Universal Credit (UC) has begun to gradually replace a number of key benefits for people of working age who are looking for work or are on a low income.

It has been brought in as part of the Welfare Reform Act and aims to simplify the benefits system and “make work pay”.

It is a single payment that replaces income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Housing Benefit.

It is paid differently to current benefits:

  • It is paid monthly into an account of your choice (so you will need a bank account, building society account or credit union account)
  • If you live with your partner and you both claim UC, you’ll receive one payment for both of you
  • Rent support will be included in your UC payment, so you’ll pay your landlord yourself

Currently, Shotton is the only place in Wales to have moved onto UC, but by the end of 2016, it will be extended to the rest of Great Britain. You can keep up-to-date with which jobcentres currently offer UC, by checking the Government’s website.

Worried you might miss your jobcentre’s switch? Fear not, you’ll be told when Universal Credit will affect you. The Money Advice Service suggests that you prepare in advance for the change, and has put together this useful video to tell you how.

To claim UC, go to the Gov.uk website to begin. If you have any queries about your claim, you can telephone 0345 600 0723 (English) or 0800 012 1888 (Welsh). Calls are 41p per min. Textphone is also available: 0345 600 0743.

The amount you receive will automatically decrease as your income increases, but there is no limit on the number of hours you can work and still claim UC. To understand this better, watch this Government video.

To estimate how much better off in work you might be, try this calculator. To estimate how much benefit you can claim in total, use this calculator from the Government.

Finally, if you want UC, you’ll have to sign a ‘Claimant Commitment’, where you agree to complete certain tasks in exchange for your UC. Your exact ‘Commitment’ will depend on personal factors, such as your health and caring responsibilities.

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