Universal credit is coming soon - are you ready?

Universal credit is coming soon - are you ready?

Universal Credit is the new combined benefit payment which brings together six different types of benefits and tax credits into one, and the full service will be arriving in Watford in the next few weeks. This article will let you know exactly when Universal Credit will be arriving in your postcode, as well as a bit more about what the payment is. 


Will Universal Credit affect me?

One of the aims of Universal Credit is to help people get back into work, so it only applies to people of working age – if you are of pension age Universal Credit doesn't affect you. 

If you are of working age, Universal Credit will affect you if you need to make a claim for any of the following:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income Support

You may well have to claim Universal Credit if there is a change in your circumstances – for example: if your benefits change, you lose your job or if you move home and need help with your housing costs.

If you currently receive one of the above benefits you will not be affected in the short term and you will continue to receive the benefits you currently get. The government plans to move all claimants on to Universal Credit from 2019.

You will receive help for your housing costs in your universal credit payment. This will be paid to you directly, and will be the money you use to pay your rent. 


For more information about Universal Credit from the government, please download the FAQs document below:

Universal Credit FAQs


When will Universal Credit come into effect in my area?

In Watford and Abbots Langley, postcodes will be affected on the following dates: 


WD17 1

Central Watford


WD17 2

Central Watford


 WD17 3



WD17 4



WD18 0

West Watford


WD18 6

Holywell ward


WD18 7

West Watford


WD24 4

Radlet Road


WD24 5

Gammons Lane


WD24 6



WD24 7



WD25 7

Sherwoods/Woodside Boundary Way


WD19 4



WD19 7

South Oxhey


WD25 0

Leavesden Green


WD25 9

Meriden Ward


WD3 5

Swannells Walk


WD5 0

Abbots Langley


Alternatively, you can check the dates for your postcode here: https://wcht.entitledto.co.uk/ucdate 

What do I have to do now? 

If you need to apply for Universal Credit, you will need to do the following:

Apply online – this can take from 20 minutes to an hour. Make sure you have all the information for your application ready, including your rent and service charge details. 

Manage your budget – as payments are monthly you will have to manage your finances carefully.

Pay your rent – your rent will no longer be paid by the Council through housing benefit, so you will have to pay your rent using your Universal Credit payment and any other income you have.

Plan ahead – be careful not to fall into arrears with your rent, as there is currently a six-week wait for your first payment. Why not pay a bit extra into your rent account so that you have a buffer before you switch over to Universal Credit? It would also be a good idea to build up some savings to pay for other bills too.

Let us know - Once you've applied for Universal Credit, please let us know so that we’re aware of how you will be paying your rent. 


Autumn Budget announcements – recent changes to Universal Credit

In the recent Autumn Budget, the government announced some changes to the way Universal Credit is paid. From January 2018, you will be able to claim an advance payment for the whole monthly payment of Universal Credit. This will be paid within five days of applying and is then repaid interest-free over the next 12 months. 

In February 2018, the waiting period for the first payment of Universal Credit will be reduced from six weeks to five weeks. 


How we can help you

If you have any questions or concerns about Universal Credit, our Tenancy Support Officers are on hand to offer assistance. They can help you to work out your monthly budget and make sure you have all the information you need to apply.

For support, please get in touch by calling 0800 218 2247 or emailing rentteam@wcht.org.uk.

You can find out more about Universal Credit by visiting the government website – gov.uk – and searching for ‘universal credit’.