Universal Credit – the biggest shake-up of the benefits system in a generation – arrives in Wolverhampton today (MON FEB 8) and a group of local organisations have launched a campaign to help residents manage the changes.
Universal Credit is the Government’s flagship welfare reform. It is a new type of benefit, administered by the Department of Work and Pensions, designed to support people who are on a low income or out of work.
Universal Credit will mean big changes to the way people apply for and receive their benefits. People can only apply for Universal Credit online and they must have a bank or credit union account to receive payments.
Payments are made monthly instead of fortnightly and claimants will be expected to take full responsibility for their own personal budgets which means paying for things like rent directly to their landlord.
Universal Credit is replacing six existing working-age benefits (pensioners are not affected) and is currently being rolled out in phases across the UK.
Not everyone will move onto Universal Credit right away. To start with, only a small amount of new claimants who meet certain criteria will receive Universal Credit (see guidance notes). The new benefit will replace six existing benefits and eventually the Government intend to switch everyone who claims those benefits over to Universal Credit.
Universal Credit will replace:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
Although Universal Credit is administered by the DWP, local organisations in Wolverhampton including the city council, Wolverhampton Homes and Citizens Advice, have worked together to offer a support package to help people prepare for the new benefit.
The strapline ‘Benefits Are Changing Big Time – Don’t Get Left Behind’ is being used to promote the local support campaign letting people know about the changes and what assistance is available in the city.
A new website – www.ucwolves.com – has been created which is full of helpful information.
Cllr John Reynolds, cabinet member for city economy, said: “The Government has introduced Universal Credit and it is the biggest shake-up of the benefits system in a generation. Benefits really are changing big time and we want to let people know that there is lots of help and support available in Wolverhampton to assist people with the transition.
“We have created www.ucwolves.com as a hub letting people know what Universal Credit is, who is eligible and what people need to do to ensure they can apply and be able to adjust to the changed Universal Credit will bring.
“The site has details of all the places you can access the internet for free, advice for how to get a bank or credit union account and personal budgeting support if people need help managing their money.
“It really is a great resource. Not everyone is moving onto Universal Credit right away, but over the coming years everyone on working age benefits will eventually switch across to it – so it makes sense to start learning about it now and seeing how things will change.”
Universal Credit in Wolverhampton is a partnership between lots of organisations and agencies working together in the city including: City of Wolverhampton Council, Wolverhampton Homes, Citizens Advice, Wolverhampton City Credit Union, Transforming Communities Together, Heantun Housing, Job Change, Refugee and Migrant Centre and Bilston Resource Centre.