Benefit changes: how we can help
The UK Government is making important changes to the benefits system – and we can help you work your way through them.
The changes apply to the way Universal Credit is paid. Universal Credit was introduced in 2013 to simplify the benefits system. It’s a single monthly payment that replaced six benefits.
The changes to Universal Credit – called ‘full service’ – have already been introduced in other parts of Scotland. They’re being introduced in Glasgow between September and December this year.
Remember, Universal Credit is only for people of working age. Pensioners will remain on their current benefits, including Housing Benefit, for the time being.
Working age people will be moved on to Universal Credit only when they make a new claim or if there’s a change in their circumstances that affects their benefits.
Here are the main changes, and how GHA can help.
Under the changes, Universal Credit is no longer for single-person households only.
You can be moved on to Universal Credit even if you have a partner or children. People who currently claim child tax credits will also be moved on to Universal Credit.
If you move on to Universal Credit, you will need to claim through an online journal. You’ll need access to the internet to do this.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) can support you if you need help with computers or getting online. Remember, GHA is here to help you too. We can help you get the skills you need to use computers and access the internet.
Our Click & Connect free computer learning centres across the city can help you get online and give you the skills you need to use the internet.
You can also get online for free – and get help to use the internet – at local libraries and other community facilities. Your housing officer can tell you more.
You will be asked to complete a claimant commitment.
That means people claiming Universal Credit need to commit to looking for a job. If you don’t keep to these commitments, the DWP could sanction you – which means you could lose your benefits. Again, GHA can help you look for jobs and training. Talk to your housing officer for more details.
If you’re moved on to Universal Credit, remember your claim will not be backdated before the date you claim it.
So if you lose your job, or you need to start claiming benefits, make sure you put your claim in as quickly as possible. Even if your circumstances change again, it’s easier to cancel a claim that you have started.
Jennifer Russell, GHA’s Managing Director, said: “These changes to the way benefits are paid are important, but we are always on hand to help. Tenants who move on to Universal Credit will need access to the internet – and there are lots of ways we can help people get online.
“People will also need to think about budgeting – how to make their money stretch over a month and make sure they cover costs such as rent. Our advisors can help people claim everything they’re entitled to and help with budgeting and managing debt.
“As soon as you know you’re moving on to Universal Credit, let us know – we’re here to help.”
To read this story, and much more, in the June issue of the Key magazine.