Over the next 12 to 18 months Universal Credit will be fully rolled out across the Diocesan area. In those areas of the country where the full rollout has already happened the impact on foodbanks has been significant, with this in mind we’d like to try to help church and foodbank volunteers to prepare for the change.

The introduction of Universal Credit which is replacing 6 other benefits has up until now only affected single people, those making new claims and those with a change in circumstance e.g. the birth of a new child; full service rollout will mean that everyone in receipt of the 6 benefits involved will be moved onto Universal Credit.

The 6 benefits involved are:

  • Income based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income Based Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Housing Benefit                 
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit                  
  • Income Support

This is a huge change for claimants not least because they will be paid monthly and in arrears, meaning initially there is about a 6-7 week period without income. Claims can also only be made online, claimants need an email address and they need to have all the relevant information to make a claim as incomplete applications cannot be saved. Rent is paid direct to claimants who then have the responsibility to pay their landlords themselves. Couples will only receive one monthly joint payment. Vulnerable claimants can access additional help such as having their rent paid direct to their housing supplier, receiving payments more frequently than monthly and receiving split payments, however this is subject to certain circumstances.

There are certain things that people can do to try to get ready for this huge change.

Such as:

  • Having a bank account that is not overdraw
  • Getting access to the internet and practising internet skills, getting an email address
  • Considering whether a joint bank account is necessary
  • Getting help with monthly budgeting, preparing for the delay in first payments

We are running a series of Cash Smart Credit Savvy courses over the next few months which cover issues such as budgeting, getting ready for UC, interest rates, debt, savings and savvy spending. If you’d like to host one at your church or if any church volunteers are interested in attending, please contact Julia Webster, Just Finance Worker at [email protected] or call 07947 210811.