How to cope when you move to Universal Credit
Published 27 February 2016 by Emily Bancroft
Are your benefits moving to a new payment format?
Universal Credit, the Government’s all-in-one benefits programme, has been rolled out to several more Jobcentres across the country. The move is just the next step in the rollout process and it’s hoped that the majority of benefits claimants will be on Universal Credit by the end of 2017.
This latest rollout will affect single people claiming benefits at Jobcentres including Stevenage, Harlow, Guiseley and Morley, as well as three Jobcentres in Leeds – Leeds Eastgate, Leeds Southern House and Leeds Park Place. If your local authority has recently moved your benefits onto to Universal Credit, you might be worrying how this will affect your budgeting. You don’t need to panic – we’ll take you through what changes it will mean for you.
The main difference between Universal Credit and any benefits you currently receive is that everything will be paid to you in one amount. That means if you’re in receipt of Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit, you’ll get these in one monthly payment, rather than in separate amounts like you’ve had in the past.
You might find this hard to adjust to as previously you would receive your benefits spaced out throughout the month – for example, Employment and Support Allowance is paid weekly and Jobseeker’s Allowance is paid bi-weekly. If you’re not used to budgeting like this, you could find it difficult to manage your bills and make your money last the whole month.
Another thing you could struggle with when you’ve moved to Universal Credit is if you receive Housing Benefit. This can be paid directly to your landlord but under Universal Credit, you’ll have to manage your rent payments yourself.
Getting this money paid straight to you can be a challenge to manage and you might struggle with paying your rent bill on time. You might also feel tempted to spend the money while you’ve got it if any unexpected bills come through or to put towards any debt repayments. However, this could leave you short for your rent payments so it’s important that you make sure you leave enough aside. If you don’t, you could end up in difficulties when your rent is due, especially if you have to go into your overdraft to afford the rent.
Managing your money
If you’re struggling with your Universal Credit payments or you’re worried about how you’re going to cope when you switch onto them, you might want to consider an account that could help you manage your bills and financial commitments. The thinkmoney Current Account is one such budgeting account and it could make it easier for you to organise your regular payments and incomes by setting aside the money you need for your bills so you won’t be able to spend it.
The thinkmoney Current Account has a monthly management fee of £10 – find out more about how it could help with your Universal Credit benefits here.