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Getting ready for Universal Credit

///Getting ready for Universal Credit
Getting ready for Universal Credit 2016-01-04T14:38:21+00:00

Universal Credit will change the way you receive and manage your money. You can use the online DWP Universal Credit questionnaire to see if you are ready for the changes.

You can get ready for Universal Credit by:

Opening a bank account

Your Universal Claim will be paid into a bank account so you will need open one if you don’t currently have one (this can be also be a Post Office bank account). You might find it easier to manage your money if you keep your Universal Credit payment in a separate account from the rest of your income, this way you can budget for things like rent and bills.

Setting up a Direct Debit

A Direct Debit can be a useful and hassle-free way of paying your rent. Once you set up a Direct Debit you know that your rent will be paid on the same day every month. If you would like to find out more about setting up a Direct Debit you can find information here.

Getting online

Universal Credit is ‘digital by design’ which means you will need to make and manage your claim online. If you do not have access to the internet or a computer at home your local library or JobCentrePlus Office should have access so you can complete your Universal Credit claim.

In addition to claiming Universal Credit there are a number of benefits of getting online which include:

  • Finding the best deals for services
  • Accessing job opportunities
  • Finding the best tariffs for utilities, such as gas and electricity
  • Comparing and finding the most suitable insurance plans
  • Online deals for everyday essentials, such as groceries
  • Access to training and employment courses

Creating a monthly household budget

Creating a monthly household budget will help you see what your overall household income is; this includes any benefits, salary or any other money you are receiving.

Using this budget planner will help you see what you are spending your money on and identify where you might be able to make cuts or savings. It is important that you complete this as fully and accurately as possible so you get a true picture of your household income.

When paying your bills you should prioritise the essential ones, such as your rent. If you are struggling to pay your rent you should contact your Rental Income Officer immediately.

Getting help with money management support

There may be times when you are struggling to manage your money and pay for essential bills, such as your rent. This may be because there has been a change to your household income or because the cost of essential bills or services has increased.

If you are struggling to pay your rent you should contact your Rental Income Officer immediately. They will be able to refer you to support to try and help maximise your income, reduce your outgoings and help you budget the income you have.

You can find out more ways to manage your money here.

Increasing your income

You may find that your income doesn’t stretch to meet your needs. This may be because your household income or the make-up of your household has changed.

Completing a monthly household budget may help you see where your money is going and areas where you might be able to make savings.

There are a number of ways you can try to increase your household income. You can:

  • Look for employment/ increase the hours you work
  • Claim any benefits you are entitled to
  • Attend a training/ employment course
  • Take in a lodger

Getting back into work

The idea behind Universal Credit is making work pay and that you should be better off in work than you are on benefits.

If you are in receipt of Universal Credit your work coach will give you advice and support to get you back into work. This will include using an online service called ‘Universal Job Match’ which will help you find a suitable job.

Barnet Homes offers a number employment and training courses. Please contact us for more information.

Getting the right benefits

If you are receiving Universal Credit and are struggling there may be additional benefits you are entitled to. Please click here for further information about benefits you may be entitled to.
If you are not entitled to additional benefits you may find it useful to look at ‘managing your money’.

Starting to save

Universal Credit will be a single monthly payment, paid in arrears. This means when you apply for Universal Credit you will not receive your first payment for around five weeks. After you receive your first payment future payments will be paid monthly. The reason for this is because Universal Credit is designed to imitate a salary and help people prepare for employment.

You can start preparing for the switchover to Universal Credit by putting aside some money every week and by getting your rent account into credit. Using a separate savings account or a Credit Union account will help you keep the money separate from your day to day budget. If you want to get your rent account into credit and want to make a short term agreement to pay a little extra each month you can speak to your Rental Income Officer who can help you.