What is it?
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is introducing Full Service Universal Credit in East Ayrshire from October 2017.
The DWP will manage and administer this benefit, not the Council.
The DWP have three Jobcentres covering East Ayrshire (Cumnock, Kilmarnock and Ayr) and they will be involved in the administration of Universal Credit alongside the Universal Credit Service Centre.
Find out more about Universal Credit, eligibility and what it might mean for you on the Government website.
You can also contact the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 328 5644.
What does it replace?
Universal Credit will simplify the welfare system by merging six benefits into one, and will replace:
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-based)
- Employment and Support Allowance (income-based)
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
It aims to:
- improve claimants’ incentive to work
- make it easier for them to move in and out of work
- be easier to understand than the existing benefits system
- reduce poverty among people on low incomes
- process changes of circumstance in real time and reduce error
- be more cost effective to operate
One of the big changes is that instead of benefits being paid weekly, you will now be paid monthly in arrears, to emulate a working wage.
You will also be responsible for paying rent directly to your landlord, whether you are a Council tenant, in Social Housing, or in a private tenancy.
If you are liable to pay Council Tax and your income and savings are below a certain level you may be entitled to Council Tax Reduction, you must complete a Council Tax Reduction Application Form.
Need a helping hand?
These are big changes and you may be worried about how you are going to manage.
The most important thing to do is ask for assistance - you don’t have to go it alone.
Universal Credit will have a significant impact on how and when you are paid.
For help, guidance and support, in planning, preparing and budgeting for these changes, it may be helpful to get in touch with one of the following organisations:
- DWP – for online support and guidance with regards to Universal Credit Personal Planner and Help with Managing your Money
- East Ayrshire Universal Credit Support Team - assistance and support for all East Ayrshire residents to make and maintain a claim
- EA Money – a local web resource that will connect you to the people best placed to help. East Ayrshire Money can put you in touch with the appropriate local organisation best placed to give you the help and support you need. Alternatively phone FREE on 0800 389 7750 between 10am and 4pm
- Citizens’ Advice Bureau - Scotland’s largest independent advice network. There’s a local office in Kilmarnock at The Gateway Centre. Call on 01563 544744.
- Money Advice Scotland – free independent advice on debt and financial management
Your guide to claiming universal credit
We’ve produced a handy guide on how and where you can get help with Universal Credit, making an application and other issues such as money worries, paying your rent and budgeting.
Universal credit and rented housing
These guides provide Social and Private Sector Landlords with information about Universal Credit. They help landlords get their tenants ready for the direct payment of housing costs and offer support if your tenant is having difficulty in paying their rent.