If you’re not sure what benefits you could be eligible to claim, head to entitled to entitledto.co.uk or give our Income Team a call on to speak to our Income Team.
Universal Credit is a type of benefit for people of working age (over 18 and under pension credit age). It’s a payment to help with your living costs. If you’re on a low income, out of work, or you cannot work then you may be able to get Universal Credit.
Want to know more? Check out our frequently asked questions here.
How much will I get?
Every claim gets reassessed once a month, at the end of your 'monthly assessment period'. Your 'monthly assessment period' is dictated by the date of your original claim, and the amount of Universal Credit you receive each month is determined by your circumstances on the last day of your 'monthly assessment period'. You will receive your payment 7 days after the end of your 'monthly assessment period'.
If you or your partner is working, your wages information will be collected from HMRC. You do not need to provide any income details, unless you are self-employed or you are specifically asked to provide these by the Department for Work and Pensions. More information on how much you'll receive, can be found here.
This video explains how Universal Credit can top up your earnings and help you with childcare costs, no matter how many hours a week you work, whether it is full-time, part-time or temporary work.
What happens after I have submitted my Universal Credit claim?
An appointment will be arranged for you to attend at your local job centre. This appointment will be within 5 days of your online claim. As part of your online claim you will be required to verify your identity.
You must attend this appointment - if you are unable to attend you will need to rearrange by calling the Universal Credit telephone line 0800 328 5644.
You will need to take all of the evidence and documents that the Department for Work and Pensions request to this appointment.
At your appointment, after checking through your documentation, you will meet with your allocated work coach; they will help you to draw up a 'Claimant Commitment' which sets out what actions you need to take to prepare/look for work. It will also explain what will happen if you don't keep to the terms of your Claimant Commitment and the sanctions (penalties) that you will be subject to.
Important - Make sure that your Claimant Commitment is realistic and achievable. If you don't think it is and you need help to challenge this then talk to the job centre or your Income Advisor at Freebridge Community Housing.
If for any reason you can't do something that is on your Claimant Commitment (for example you are unwell), you must tell the Department for Work and Pensions immediately. If you fail to tell them, you may have some or all of your Universal Credit sanctioned (not paid).
What if I am in rent arrears?
If you haven't already done so, it is vital that you talk to your Income Advisor to agree an affordable payment arrangement.
If you are in serious rent arrears, or have a vulnerability that means you cannot easily manage your rent payments, we can help you to apply for an Alternative Payment Arrangement. If this is agreed, any housing costs that you are awarded will be paid directly to us instead of being paid to you as part of your monthly Universal Credit payment.
If you do not talk to your Income Advisor about your rent arrears and/or your arrears do not reduce, you will be at risk of legal action which may result in court costs being added to your rent account and you will be at risk of losing your home.
If you are told to claim Universal Credit then please call your Income Advisor on 03332 404 444. We can help to support you through the claim process and beyond to ensure that your rent account is paid up to date and to help with budgeting to cover all of your outgoings.
If you are already claiming Universal Credit and you don't receive all of the money you were expecting, or you are told your claim is sanctioned then please call you Income Advisor on 03332 404 444. If you think this is wrong or unjust then we can help to ask the job centre to reconsider their decision.
If you are already claiming Universal Credit and have a "spare room" then we can help you to apply for Discretionary Housing Payment from your local council. See 'Under-occupation deduction' further down the page for more information.
What benefits are excluded from Universal Credit?
These benefits will continue to be paid to you separately to your monthly Universal Credit payments:
If you can't find the answer to your question, or you want to discuss this in more detail then please contact your Income Advisor on 03332 404 444 and choosing option 3.
Under-Occupation Deduction or "Bedroom Tax"
The under-occupation deduction, more commonly known as "bedroom tax" was introduced on 1 April 2013. This means that your housing benefit / housing costs under Universal Credit will be reduced if, according to the government guidelines, you have more bedrooms than they think you need.
If you, (or you and your partner) are of Pension Credit age then you will not be affected by the under-occupation deduction.
Your housing benefit / housing costs element of your Universal Credit claim will be reduced by an amount equal to 14% of your rent if you are regarded as having one "extra" bedroom, or by 25% of your rent if you have two or more "extra" bedrooms.
The deduction will be made regardless of the size of the bedroom, whether you use it or not and regardless of what you use if for if it is used as a different room to a bedroom.
How many bedrooms am I allowed?
The guidelines state that:
A single person aged 16 or over needs their own bedroom
A couple needs their own bedroom
A boy and a girl are expected to share a bedroom if they are both under 10
2 boys or 2 girls are expected to share a bedroom if they are both under 16
Children who stay with you part of the time are not taken into account if you are not in receipt of Child Benefit for that child
Foster children are not taken into account (see special circumstances below)
There are special circumstances where an extra bedroom may be allowed. There are:
If two people are unable to share a bedroom due to a disability
If your local council (for Housing Benefit) or the DWP (for Universal Credit) accept that if, because of a child's disability, there would be disruption to the sleep of another child if they shared a bedroom, then the disabled child can be allocated their own bedroom if they are getting the middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance.
If, due to one member of the couple's physical or mental disability, they cannot reasonably share a bedroom they will be allocated an extra bedroom. The disabled person must be in receipt of the Daily Living Component of Personal Independence Payment, the middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, the high rate of Attendance Allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payment.
A room for an overnight carer
If you or your partner are disabled and needs overnight care "regularly" for someone who does not normally live with you, then the carer may be allocated a bedroom.
It is up to the council (for Housing Benefit) or the DWP (for Universal Credit) to decide if it is "regularly" and can be allocated a bedroom.
For Universal Credit the person requiring the care must be getting either Personal Independence Payment (daily living component) or the high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance.
From 1 April 2017, the rules are extended to cover children, foster children or non-dependents who regularly receive the overnight care; an extra room may be allocated for thir carer.
For Universal Credit, the child or person requiring the care must be getting either Personal Independence Payment (daily living component) or the middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payment.
If someone in the household is a foster carer, only one extra bedroom is allowed regardless of the number of foster children in residence; the rule will still apply during gaps between fostering (if the gap is less than 12 months).
If a son or daughter is in the armed forces but normally lives with you, they will retain their bedroom whilst away on operations.
Away at University
If a son or daughter who normally lives with you is away at college or university, they will retain their bedroom whilst away from home, so long as they intend to return (and to return), within 52 weeks (Housing Benefit) or 6 months (Universal Credit).
For further information on the under-occupation deduction and how this may affect you, please speak to us at Freebridge Community Housing.
Please see our useful booklet :-
You need to apply for Universal Credit online at www.gov.uk/universal-credit - in some special circumstances a telephone claim can be made instead.
It is important that you answer the questions on your claim form about your rent correctly. If you guess or put in information that isn’t right then you might not get all (or any!) of your housing costs paid as part of your Universal Credit claim. We also have this short guide to refer to: How to make a Universal Credit claim
There is also a helpful video that can be found here, about how to make a claim for Universal Credit.
Norfolk Citizens Advice offer a service called ‘Help to Claim’ that helps people to make a new claim for Universal Credit.
They can help you to:
Set-up your Universal Credit account
Do all the things you need to do to make your claim
Check and confirm your identity
Make sure you’ve got all the right information to help you to make your claim
They can also help you to understand what Universal Credit will mean for you.
To find out more, call 0800 144 8 444 (freephone) or to find details of your local Norfolk Citizens Advice office click on this link https://www.ncab.org.uk/?p=locations