The next phase of Universal Credit is coming – are you ready?
The period between making a Universal Credit claim and receiving the money in your account has been shown to be a danger zone for falling into arrears. By knowing this and making changes so that you have a ‘buffer’ of money in your rent account, you can prepare for Universal Credit arriving in Watford in December 2017.
The government’s Universal Credit scheme changes the way that means-tested benefits are paid. Its second phase will be rolling out this year, which will affect couples and families who make a new claim for out-of-work benefits.
Universal Credit is a monthly payment which joins all the benefits you may receive into one. It replaces a number of other benefit schemes, including housing benefit, and makes it easier to manage your money.
It is your responsibility as a tenant to make sure your rent payments are made, to meet the terms of your tenancy agreement. If you don’t plan ahead, then the changes that will come about as a result of Universal Credit may mean that you fall behind on your rent payments – especially as there is a wait of approximately seven weeks between making your claim and receiving your Universal Credit payment.
To combat this, we recommend paying a little bit more on your rent payments when you can. This will mean that your account will have extra credit, so that when there’s a waiting period for your Universal Credit, you don’t have to worry about going into arrears. Having a ‘buffer’ for your payments is a great way to set your mind at ease and avoid money worries.
If you know there are certain times of the year when you have more money in your account, use these times to pay more rent so that you can worry less during the months where money is tighter. For example, if you are a self-employed builder who has more work on in the summer, or if you are able to work extra shifts at Christmas time, you can choose to build up a buffer in your rent account at these times.
Universal Credit might also mean changes to the way you manage your money and your claims. If you’re used to receiving your money on a weekly or fortnightly basis, changing to monthly payments may mean you need to learn to manage your money differently in order to ensure you can still pay your bills.
Also, Universal Credit must be claimed online, which means you must have access to the internet. Your computer skills may be put to the test.
If you feel you need advice on your money management or digital skills, we can support you in a number of ways, including helping you draw up a monthly budget.
Make sure you and your rent account are ready for Universal Credit!
If you would like more information about Universal Credit, or for financial advice, please contact customer services on 0800 2182247.