Major benefit changes are on the way!
People across North Ayrshire who need to claim benefits are being reminded that they may be affected by major changes being implemented next month.
The next phase of the Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) roll-out of Universal Credit begins on 22 November which will see six benefits and tax credits replaced with a single monthly payment for the majority of new claimants who are of working age.
Since 2015, a small number of people have been claiming Universal Credit in North Ayrshire. The new phase will be rolled out to a much wider group of people in late November.
Universal Credit is a new type of welfare benefit administered by the DWP which is paid to those who are out of work and some people who are in work but on a low income.
The changes will see Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Housing Benefit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit replaced by a new single payment.
Laura Friel, Executive Director (Finance and Corporate Support), said: “These changes were announced by the UK Government some time ago.
“However, we are now at the stage where many more people will soon be switching over to Universal Credit and it’s important they know how the changes will affect them and what they need to do.
“For example, people will need to claim Universal Credit online and payments will become monthly – this is a big change for those in receipt of benefits and might make managing your money more challenging.
“We don’t want anyone to miss out on what they are entitled to so, if they are affected by the upcoming changes, I would urge them to find out as much as possible about the changes as soon as possible.”
For those out of work, Universal Credit will provide a single payment each month. In return for that payment, DWP will expect Universal Credit claimants to seek work.
Universal Credit will also apply to people in-work but earning below a certain amount. Where this is the case, it will work like tax credits, in that income will be topped up to a certain level.
The introduction of Universal Credit will also mean that:
Residents will have to wait six weeks before receiving their first payment.
The payments will be monthly rather than fortnightly
People will still receive help with their housing costs through Universal Credit, however rent will not be paid directly to landlords by DWP as a matter of course – in most cases claimants will need to make sure their rent is paid.
Universal Credit will also be digital so residents will need to access IT facilities and have the skills to claim through an online customer portal and maintain their claim online through their Personal Journal. For those without access at home to the internet, they can access IT facilities at their local library.
North Ayrshire Council staff will provide in-depth support to residents in the coming months. If you think that you could be affected or require further information, visit www.north-ayrshire.gov.uk/universalcredit or contact your local Job Centre for more information.
You can also find out more details by visiting the UK Government website at www.gov.uk/universal-credit