A brief introduction

What is it?

Universal Credit is a new benefit for people who are unemployed or on a low income. It replaces Housing Benefit, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Income-related Employment Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment, made direct into your bank account, and you need to apply for it (and manage your claim) online.

Full information about Universal Credit, including how to find out if you are eligible, what you might receive, and how to claim, can be found at www.gov.uk/universalcredit or you can call the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 328 5644.

When is it happening?

Universal Credit is already in place for single people, and is now being rolled out in stages across the country to working age couples and families with two children or fewer who are making a new claim for benefits. Online applications for Universal Credit are now being accepted in Three Rivers, Watford, Welwyn Hatfield, Broxbourne and St Albans. Universal Credit will be rolled out in other Thrive Homes areas from September to December 2018. To find out the details of when it will take place in your area please log on to https://ucpostcode.entitledto.co.uk/ucdate and enter your postcode.

How will it affect you?

If you are currently receiving any of the benefits above, nothing will change straight away, but you may have to claim Universal Credit if your circumstances change.

As Universal Credit replaces Housing Benefit and is paid directly to you, you will be responsible for paying your rent to us in full from the day you claim.

It will take time to process your claim and you will not be entitled to any payment for the first week following your application. You can expect to wait at least six weeks before receiving a payment. You can request an advance payment, which is then repaid from your future payments. You should discuss this option with your Job Centre advisor if you are applying because you are unemployed.

How you can prepare

Find out about Universal Credit in your area so that you know what information you may need if you make a claim, and can act quickly if your circumstances change.

Keep your rent account up to date. If you are worried about how you would manage if your circumstances change, consider making extra payments now to keep your account in advance.

Set up a Direct Debit for regular payments if you don’t already have one in place – we offer any day Direct Debits, and can set these up with you by phone – call on 0800 917 6077 or contact us via the myThrive app.

If you already have a Direct Debit in place and would like to increase your payments to build up a credit on your account – call on 0800 917 6077 or contact us via the myThrive app.

If you make a claim

Make sure you confirm when making your claim that you are a tenant of Thrive Homes and that you are responsible for paying rent to Thrive Homes.

Tell us straight away that you are making a claim for Universal Credit and pay your rent in full to us.

Don’t delay – email: enquiries@thrivehomes.org.uk, phone: 0800 917 6077 or contact us via the myThrive app.

What will Thrive Do

We will provide you with any information we are holding which you may need for your claim e.g. a copy of your tenancy agreement.

We will respond quickly to the DWP if we are asked for any information needed to support your claim.

We will talk through what advice and support we can give if you are making a claim.

Managing your money

You are responsible for budgeting to ensure you can pay your rent and service charges and other household commitments. For some households, moving to Universal Credit may be the first time that all income will be received on one monthly payment date.

The government has set up a Money Manager service to give free and impartial advice about managing your money on Universal Credit. This can accessed at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk or by Freephone number 0800 137 7777. Alternatively, we can help you review your finances or you can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau on 03444 111 444.

If you need help with your Council Tax, contact your Local Authority about claiming council tax reduction. Contact details for your Local Authority are available at http://www.thrivehomes.org.uk/local-authority-contacts/