Universal Credit started in Kensington and Chelsea in November 2015, but only for single unemployed people making a new claim for benefit. However during July 2016, it started to be introduced to a wider range of people. See Universal Credit Full Service below.
Universal Credit is a new welfare benefit that combines and replaces the major working-age income-related benefits: Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.
As well as combining several benefits into one, Universal Credit is different from existing benefits in a number of ways. There is support available locally to help you to move onto Universal Credit and adapt to it.
- Universal Credit will be paid monthly rather than weekly.
- You will need to claim Universal Credit online. Your local Jobcentre can help you if you do not have access to the internet.
- If you are on Housing Benefit, your Housing Benefit will no longer be paid directly to your landlord. Instead it will be paid to you as part of your Universal Credit benefit. It will be your responsibility to pay your rent out of this money. However, there are different rules if you live in supported housing.
- If you are on Universal Credit you can still claim Council Tax Reduction from the Council. To claim, call the Council's Benefits Service on 020 7361 3006, or download and print a claim form.
Universal Credit Full Service
Anyone who lives in a W14, SW3, SW5, SW7 or SW10 postcode in the borough and wishes to make a claim for Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Tax Credits or Housing Benefit, must now claim Universal Credit instead. This is known as the Full Service of Universal Credit. As well as covering a wider range of people than the Universal Credit introduced in the borough in 2015, the Full Service offers an improved on-line system for claiming Universal Credit.
Once you receive Universal Credit under the Full Service, it will not be possible to return to Housing Benefit, until you are pension age.
However, there are different rules if you live in supported housing.
From April 2017, if you have more than two children and you wish to make a new claim for Universal Credit, you will not be able to (even if you live in a Universal Credit Full Service area). Instead you will be allowed to claiming existing benefits including Housing Benefit.
The majority of the remaining parts of the borough will begin the Full Service, for new claimants, in July 2017. After this, if you are still claiming one of the existing benefits, you will be moved over to Universal Credit between 2018 to 2022.
Universal Credit is designed to help you to be better off in work. Even if you are not in work, you will not be worse off when you move from your current benefits to Universal Credit. Provided your circumstances are still the same, your Universal Credit will be at least the same as the total of your current benefits. The Benefit Cap (£441 per week or £296 per week) will be incorporated into Universal Credit.
18 to 21 year olds
From April 2017, 18 to 21 year olds who make a new claim for Universal Credit in a Full Service area will not be able to get the housing costs element. There will be a number of exceptions.
People aged 18 to 21 who are:
- working, or were recently working
- former care leavers
- entitled to the care component of Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate or the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
- living in temporary accommodation
- unable to live with their parents or whose parents are dead
- victims of domestic violence
- exempt from certain work requirements
You can find more information on Universal Credit on the Government's website or you can call 0345 6000 723 or textphone 0345 6000 743. Lines are open from 8am to 6pm on Monday to Friday and calls are charged at the standard local call charge rate from BT landlines. Call charges from mobiles and other networks may vary. If the call ends suddenly, it is up to you to call back.