A new system for benefit claiming comes into use in Preston during July.Advertisement
Preston is one of dozens of local authorities to see the new Universal Credit be introduced.
The means-tested benefit for people of working age replaces the following six current benefits:
– income support
– income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
– income-related employment and sipport allowance
– housing benefit
– child tax credit
– working tax credit
Preston’s rollout date for the new benefits system is from Wednesday 18 July.
Amounts given out under Universal Credit are dependant on the income and circumstances of the household.
For those under-25 and claiming on their own it is £251.77 per month, for single claimants aged 25 or over it’s £317.82.
Joint claimants both under 25 could see £395.20 per month and joint claimants aged 25 or over it is £498.89 per month.
Universal credit is a single payment made monthly in arrears.
The government says it has made payments quicker under Universal Credit, by scrapping the seven-days rule, it had been facing criticism with some people waiting weeks for payments.
Work and pensioners secretary Esther McVey said: “It can be a worrying time looking for work and our priorities are to help people find employment quickly and to improve lives. Our package of support affords better help for people as soon as they make a claim to Universal Credit.”
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Turn2Us is a charity which helps people struggling financially to ensure they are claiming what they should be.
Pritie Billimoria, Head of Communications of Turn2us, said: “Even though Universal Credit is being introduced to Preston next month, most people won’t need to worry about switching just yet. Unless you are new to benefits or have a change in circumstances you won’t be transferred onto Universal Credit until at least 2019.
“In regards to people contacting us, we have seen a surge in people contacting us in fear and confusion about Universal Credit, and we want anyone who is worried about it to get in contact to understand their full rights and entitlements.”
ICANN is a Preston-based charity that helps support people undergoing work capability assessments as part of their Universal Credit claim.
Services manager Janet Cullingford said: “There was a national survey published in last few days suggesting that customer experience of UC was even worse than we were being led to believe.
“Our concerns are around people not being able to manage the digital platform, maybe due to poor literacy, IT inexperience, lack of IT availability etc, they may end up getting sanctioned for not meeting their claimant commitment.
“Feedback from other areas shows that there are still delays in claims resulting in financial hardship, and difficulties where people are not used to managing to budget monthly.
“I am sure the food bank referrals will increase. The pressure on local charities who help with advice, advocacy, benefits and the like will go up, which we will struggle to meet demand. More volunteers are needed.”
Leader of Preston City Council councillor Matthew Brown said: “Evidence shows it is often the vulnerable and disabled in our community who are affected by this government’s welfare reforms including Universal Credit.
“We will do what we can to fight back by protecting crucial advice services but also expanding access to affordable food, credit, energy and housing as well as seeking to create a fairer and more democratic local economy.”
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For anyone who will be affected by Universal Credit then the government website is the first place to turn.
Turn2Us has a huge number of guides and resources available, and they also have a benefits calculator which helps your work out how much you should be entitled to in terms of benefits.
Will you or someone in your family be affected by Universal Credit? What do you think of the idea? Let us know in the comments below or you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org