Universal Credit

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Universal Credit is the new single benefit payment which will replace a range of other benefits for people of working age.

It will affect new claimants in certain areas from April 2014. It will be paid fortnightly/monthly. Claims for existing benefits and credits will be phased out gradually.

The benefits to be replaced by Universal Credit are:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits

Universal Credit will be made up of a standard allowance and five elements, including a Carer Element and a Housing Element. The amount you get will depend on your circumstances.

Will Universal Credit affect me?

It will affect you if:

  • You’re of State Pension age but live with a younger spouse or partner who receives any of the above benefits. This is because the amount you get from certain benefits depends on your joint income.
  • If you claim Pension Credit and Housing Benefit. Eventually, Pension Credit will be changed to include an element called Housing Credit for people who need help paying their rent.
  • If you claim Pension Credit and Tax Credits. Eventually, the Guarantee part of Pension Credit will be changed to include an additional amount for dependent children.

There will be a ‘claimant commitment’ which you must accept if you are out of work or earning below a certain amount and claiming Universal Credit. This is an agreement that you will take certain steps, for example, preparing a CV or attending training courses, in return for getting Universal Credit. If you’re a carer, or you’re not capable of working, you will not be expected to work or prepare for work.

You will claim and manage Universal Credit through an online account, but there will also be telephone and face-to-face support available for those who need it.

Will the benefit cap affect me?

The benefit cap is a new limit on the amount that most people of working age can get in benefit payments. You’ll also be affected if you’re over 65 and live with a spouse or partner who is under 65.

The cap will be phased in between April 2014 and September 2014. Call the Age NI Advice Service on freephone 0808 808 7575 to find out when it will be rolled out in your area. When the cap is in place, the limit of how much you can get will be £350 for a single person and £500 for couples. Certain people will be exempt from the benefit cap, for example if you’re in the support group for Employment Support Allowance.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will contact you if the benefit cap will affect you. You can use the benefit cap calculator at opens link in new window www.gov.uk/benefit-cap

If your total benefits are more than the cap, your Housing Benefit will be reduced.

Free benefit check

If you, or an older person you know needs advice, information or practical support on a wide range of issues including welfare benefits, community care, housing and health, contact the Age NI Advice Service on Freephone 0808 808 7575 to speak to a specialist advisor in confidence. Our advisors can provide a free benefit check to ensure that older people are accessing the benefits they are entitled to. 

Last year our Advice Service dealt with thousands of calls from older people in need. Call the Age NI Advice Service today to make sure that you are receiving all the help and support available to you.

Age NI Advice Line:
0808 808 7575

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