To the millions of people forced to seek financial help during this worrying time welcome to the Benefit system we hope you had good advice before starting your claim?
Did anyone mention that you might have been able to claim Contribution Based or New Style Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) or if Sick or Shielding New Style Employment Support Allowance (ESA) but only if you have paid enough National Insurance Contributions both not means tested.
It can seem very complicated and if you are thinking of claiming Universal Credit (UC) we strongly recommend that you speak to a Specialist Welfare Rights Advisor first as the date you make your claim is very important – it sets the start of your entitlement to UC and it also sets the following monthly assessment period.
Universal Credit can be claimed whether or not you are working and it includes various elements that are related to things like housing, childcare, sickness, number of children and so on.
Were you told that many off your existing benefits would be stopped quickly including Tax Credits, Housing Benefits, and any other means tested benefits you have and more importantly there is no going back on them later?
Did they explain how taxable pay / income / tax refund from your employer can impact on your new claim?
Did they do a calculation and explain that many people are worse off on UC (Even with the £20 addition) than the previous or existing benefits claimed many of which could have continue?
Universal Credit is a monthly benefit, calculated and paid in arrears, which means that the amount you get is worked out on your circumstances and the income you or your partner have received in the previous month.
The previous month is called the ‘assessment period’ and it runs for a calendar month from the date you make your claim. For example, if a claim for Universal Credit is made on 17 April, the assessment period will be 17 April to 16 May and your circumstances and taxable income received during this period will be used to calculate your Universal Credit award for that previous month.
So if your final pay includes holidays, notice or wages then this taxable income will effect your future UC payment if it is paid any time between the above dates, however if your pay date was say 27th of April then you could have been advised to wait until after this pay date to start your new UC when that wage would have been fully ignored by UC and not effect your future monthly UC payment.
Many people will be expecting UC to be paid in full in the coming weeks but will be very disappointed due to way UC works, by simply waiting a week or two before claiming this disappointment could have been avoided.