The question is How will Universal Credits affect me? This is such a hot topic right now, and as I write ‘universal credit’ it is trending on twitter… but what is it and how will Universal Credits affect me?
In simple terms Universal Credit is a monthly payment to help with your living costs, the benefit is means tested; meaning you existing income will be assessed. Whether you can claim Universal Credit depends on where you live and your circumstances.
Universal Credit will roll up the following six benefits in to one single payment:
• Child Tax Credit
• Housing Benefit
• Income Support
• income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
• income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
• Working Tax Credit
If you currently receive any of these benefits, then you will be unable to claim Universal Credit. Universal Credit is being introduced in stages across the UK. You don’t need to do anything until you hear from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about moving to Universal Credit, unless you have a change in circumstance.
Sounds straightforward enough right?!?…Maybe not!
As detailed in this article by the Sun https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4637196/the-new-universal-credit-scheme-will-leave-misery-fear-and-chaos-in-its-wake/
On the surface Universal Credit can appear attractive. It aims to simplify the welfare state, make it easier for people to claim their entitlement, and improve incentives to work.
How will Universal Credits affect me?
However, as it rolls up six existing benefits in to one payment Universal Credit also means people are often without any financial support at all for anywhere between six and twelve weeks.
Many claimants are unemployed and therefore don’t have any money due to them from previous employers.
People have to apply online and Universal Credit’s IT system acts like a Berlin Wall to claiming successfully.
Until a claim is made successfully the clock doesn’t start ticking for a first payment to be made at the very earliest in six weeks’ time.
When payments do arrive, they include the family’s rent payments. This simply overwhelms some families who, until now, have always had their rent paid direct to landlords.
No surprise, therefore, that huge numbers of claimants are in arrears with their rent payments and many of them already face eviction.
Let’s not forget, it takes a while for people to adapt to change; especially where money is concerned. This alone is causing people to lose control of their finances, resulting in falling behind with creditor payments and other household bills.
How many of us understand what Universal Credit is and “How will Universal Credits affect me?” In my opinion, we need to be doing better when it comes to policy and benefit changes, by doing so; we will reduce the risks to our economy.
What happens whilst you are waiting for 6 weeks with no money?
Universal Credit is based on the assumption that we all have savings, that we’ve all been in work, and that wages will keep families going until the first payment in six weeks.
It is deemed that most of our population is 1 pay check from being homeless, never mind having savings. Rents have gone unpaid. Utility bills have likewise been unpaid, as families struggle to put food on the table.
What about your landlord?
I think it is fair to say that your landlord also has bills such as a mortgage to pay. This is where we are seeing a domino effect, no rent payments = mortgage arrears = possibilities of repossession.
Public Scrutiny and Criticism
Universal Credit was clearly designed to improve current processes and efficiencies, however ‘simplifying’ something doesn’t’ always improve its effectiveness.
Since its launch the scheme has come under considerable criticism and as the roll-out of the scheme ramps up, so does the criticism.
Former PM Sir John Major stated the Conservative Party needs to ‘show its heart again’ or it risks opening door to ’return of a nightmare’. Major went on to label the scheme as “operationally messy, socially unfair and unforgiving”.
Theresa May is also facing pressure on universal credit from MPs on her backbenches, after Heidi Allen said she and 14 colleagues wanted the roll out to be paused.
With such continuous scrutiny and criticism I would expect Universal Credit to remain high on social media trending lists for some time to come.
If these changes have impacted you and your family, we are here, here to Educate, Inspire and Support you through these changes.
Author: Natasha Parrott
I am aware we will not be able to save everyone BUT if we can at least save 1 family, if those parents teach their children and so on for generations to come; we have achieved our mission.