Universal Credit is replacing Housing Benefit

As part of its welfare reforms the Government has introduced Universal Credit, a new benefit that replaces six existing benefits.

This includes Housing Benefit, with a single monthly payment, if you are out of work or on a low income. It applies to all working age customers in the Preston City Council area from 18 July 2018.

You may be able to claim Universal Credit instead of certain benefits if you are on a low income or out of work.

Universal Credit will replace the following benefits:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Jobseekers Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

If you are already claiming the benefits listed above, your local Job centre Plus or Tax Credits office will tell you when you have to move to Universal Credit.

For new claims, or if you have a change in your circumstances this would mean you have claimed one of the benefits listed above, you will have to claim Universal Credit instead.

You will no longer be able to claim Housing Benefit and we will need to cancel your claim from the date that you claim Universal Credit.

How Universal Credit is different

Universal Credit is paid differently to current benefits.

You will get a single payment for your household and it will be paid once a month into your bank or building society account.

If your Universal Credit payment includes housing costs you will need to pay this to your landlord. Gov.UK explains what this means to you.

Council Tax Support

Universal Credit does not include Council Tax Support. You can make a Council Tax Support claim online.

You will need to provide us with your Universal Credit letter when you first receive it and provide it every time your award changes.

Similarly you should inform the Council of any changes in your circumstances.

How to claim Universal Credit

You can apply for Universal Credit online:

Apply for Universal Credit (GOV.UK)

If you do not have access to the internet you can visit your local Job centre or use Preston City Council's self serve computers in the One Stop Shop at the Town Hall.

Your application will take around 30 - 40 minutes. Please make sure you have the following information before you start your online application:

  • your postcode
  • your National Insurance number
  • your email address
  • your mobile telephone number
  • details of the bank or building society you want Universal Credit paid into
  • your rent agreement (if you have one) and proof of rent paid
  • details of your savings or other capital
  • details of any income
  • details of any other benefits you are getting
  • details of any children, including their Child Benefit numbers

How is Universal Credit paid?

You will need a bank account to receive Universal Credit but you could also receive your Universal Credit payment into a Credit Union account.

Most high street banks now offer a basic bank account that is accessible to all.

Further information regarding basic bank accounts can be found on the money advice service website.

Severe disability premium

If you are entitled to an award of an existing benefit that includes the Severe disability premium, from 16 January 2019 you will be prevented from naturally migrating to Universal Credit following a change of circumstances.

If you become no longer entitled to the severe disability premium then you will need to claim Universal Credit and Council Tax Support.

Supported and temporary accommodation

If you are in receipt of Universal Credit and live in supported or temporary accommodation e.g. through our Housing Advice Team, you will still need to claim Housing Benefit to help with your rent.

You will need to provide us with your Universal Credit letter when you first receive this and provide the letter every time your award changes. Similarly you should inform the Council of any further changes in your circumstances.

What can I do if the Housing element of my Universal Credit does not meet my full rent?

Discretionary Housing payments (DHP) can help people in a temporary situation where they need extra help with their housing costs.

To be eligible for a payment you must be claiming housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and we must be satisfied that you are in need of extra financial help.

If there is a shortfall in the amount of Universal Credit you receive towards your rent and your actual rent, you may be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

A Discretionary Housing payment can be made to help you top up your Housing element should you be suffering financial hardship.

You will need to apply for Discretionary Housing Payment to Preston City Council.

Discretionary Housing Payments can also be used to help towards a rent deposit or moving costs should you need to move to more suitable accommodation, that you can afford within your own budget.