Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new benefit being rolled out by the Government across the country. It is a single monthly payment which gives you responsibility for paying your rent and will include some other benefits you might otherwise have claimed.

Will Universal Credit affect me?

Who is affected in County Durham right now?

You are affected by Universal Credit now if you are:

  • Making a new claim for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Single with no dependents
  • A tenant or living with friends/family

You will be asked to apply for Universal Credit instead of Job Seekers Allowance.

If you're already claiming benefits, you don't need to do anything. You will be advised when any of these changes affect you.

How do you apply for Universal Credit?

You have to make your claim online. If you do not have access to a computer you can do this at the Job Centre, or the Cestria Hub.

You must have the following information to make your claim:

  • Full name and address including your postcode
  • Date of birth
  • National Insurance Number
  • Details of bank, building society or Post Office Account
  • Proof of your weekly rent
  • Details of savings or capital
  • Details of any other income you may receive

It will take up to an hour to make your claim and you must have all of the above information ready to complete it.

If you need to check the amount of rent we charge you please contact the Income Management Team for further details.

What happens after applying for Universal Credit?

You will receive a phone call and a text message confirming an appointment with your Work Coach at the Job Centre.

You must take proof of your weekly rent to this appointment.

If you think that you will have difficulty paying the rent we charge you out of your monthly Universal Credit payment, are already in rent arrears or would like help with budgeting or debt advice you must tell your Work Coach when you go to the Job Centre.

When will you receive your first payment?

You will receive your first month's payment six weeks after the date that you make your initial claim.

You can request an advance payment to help with your daily living expenses and your rent while you wait for your first Universal Credit payment, however you will need to repay this. It will be recovered over a three to six month period.

Paying your rent and council tax

Housing Benefit will no longer be paid directly to Cestria on your behalf. It will be your responsibility to pay your full rent to Cestria Community Housing.

Your Universal Credit payment will include a ‘housing costs element’ which you will need to pay to us, together with any other charges and any arrears you may owe.

There are a number of ways you can pay your rent, please speak to the Income Management Team to discuss the best way for you.

Council tax benefit is not included in your Universal Credit claim so you will need to contact Durham County Council to make a separate claim for this. You can do this at the Cestria Hub.

How we can help

We can provide you with a letter detailing the full breakdown of your rent and other charges for you to take to the Job Centre. If you would like this letter please contact us on 0191 385 1407or visit our offices at Bowes or The Cestria Hub.

We have 1-2-1 tuition available to help you get online as part of our Online Owls project. Visit www.onlineowls.co.uk for more information or call 0191 385 1436.

Our Money Works Team can provide 1-2-1 support either in person or over the phone to help you with your benefit claims or organising your finances. If you would like more information please call 0191 385 1407.

Our Employability Officer offers individual 1-2-1 support in your journey of getting back to work; by helping get grants for courses, job seeking, and application/CV writing. Please call Alison Styring on 0191 385 1408 for more information.

Univesal Credit is being rolled out gradually in County Durham, and began in September 2015. It will eventually replace the following benefits:

  • Income-based JSA
  • Income-based ESA
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit

If you will like more information please visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit

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