If you are of working age and need help with paying your rent, claims will be made through Universal Credit. For more information on this and Universal Credit please click here
Universal credit is a new benefit system replacing many of the current benefits and tax credits. It is for working age individuals, including single parents. You can claim it whether you have a job or not. It is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and is being introduced gradually across the country. Universal Credit is replacing six working age and income-related benefits, also called 'legacy benefits'
It brings together the following benefits:
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
You have to claim Universal Credit online (GOV.UK Apply for Universal Credit). This can be on a computer, smart phone or tablet. The Department for Work and Pensions has produced a short video demonstrating the new Universal Credit Full Service online claim and account. You may find it useful to watch the video, to familiarise yourself with the new Universal Credit claim process;
Universal credit will be a big change for you and your family’s finances – so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re prepared for the switchover. We’re here to support you, but there are different ways that you can start to prepare so we’ve put together some tips to make sure you and your family is getting ready for the start of Universal Credit
- Plan ahead - When universal credit is introduced you will get one monthly payment for all benefits at once – so you may need to change the way you manage your money each month. We have online budgeting calculator which may help and you can access by login on to either a budgeting or money advice.
- Mind the gaps - Although Universal Credit may not apply to you for some time, there are still lots of things you can do to prepare.
- Have you got an Account - You’ll need a bank or building society account, or an account with a credit union for your payments. If you don’t already have one, please visit your local bank or building society or contact Fusion Credit Union. Help is available by visiting:
- Internet access - Make sure you have access to the internet – you’ll be expected to claim Universal Credit and manage your account online. If you require help with getting online visit your local library or contact the Citizen Advice Bureau for support.
- Plan ahead - Set up a Direct Debit to ensure your rent account is kept up to date. To set up a Direct Debit please contact the Income Management Team.
- Check your rent Balance - The best way for you to view your rent account is to login on the 'Housing Online' section of this website. If you need any help, please contact us. If you do not have a computer and require a rent statement, please ring the Income Management Team on 01543 462621
If you’re struggling to pay your rent, or if your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit stops for any reason, please contact Income Management Team by email or ring 01543 462621. We can help and advise.
For further information see the leaflet below:
- Universal Credit Update
How to claim Universal Credit for Housing Cost (Rent): step by step
Universal Credit can help you with your living costs if you’re on low income or out of work.
- Step 1: Check if you're eligible
If you've worked in the last 2 to 3 years, you may also be eligible for:
- 'new style' Jobseeker's Allowance if you're out of work
- 'new style' Employment and Support Allowance if you can't work because of illness or disability
- Step 2: Create an account and make a claim
You need an online account to claim Universal Credit.
You must submit your claim within 28 days of creating your account.
If you live with your partner, they will also need to set up an account. You'll be given a code to link the accounts together.
You'll need to have an interview with Job Centre Plus (Cannock). You'll be told how to arrange this after you submit your claim. It will be within 10 working days.
If you have a disability or health condition you may need a medical assessment. You'll be told if you need one after you claim.
Step 3: Apply for an advance on your first payment
If you need help with you rent or other costs while you wait for your first payment, you can apply to get an advance.
- Get an advance on your first Universal Credit payment
- Check if you can get any other financial support
But remember you will have to pay the advance back; so always ask for budgeting advice and only take the advance for your rent or essential bills.
- Step 4: Attend your interview
Step 5: Get your first payment
You’ll get your first payment 5 weeks after you claim. Your account will be updated to tell you how much it will be. Payment will then be each calendar month or around the same date each time.
Step 6: Follow your agreement and report any change of circumstances
You must keep to the Claimant Commitment you agreed at your interview. If you do not, your payments could stop.
You must also update your account if your circumstances change to ensure your getting the right payment.
You can report a change of circumstances by signing into your Universal Credit account.
- What to do if your payments are stopped
Housing Benefit run on for Universal Credit
- If a claimant received housing benefit before claiming UC, they will receive a two week run on of this payment when they make a claim.
- The payment is made by the local authority.
- The extra 2 weeks of housing benefit will not be taken into account as income and will not reduce the first UC payment.
- Claimants do not need to claim these extra 2 weeks – they will be paid automatically when you claim.
- If housing benefit is paid directly to a claimant, they will also get this paid directly to them too.
Claimants can only get the housing benefit run on once – the first time they claim UC.
Useful website information
Claimants in Temporary Accommodation
- Claimants who move into Temporary Accommodation whilst claiming UC will no longer receive the housing element of UC. They will receive housing benefit instead.
- This will be the process for both new claims and also for any change of circumstances that move a claimant into Temporary Accommodation during their claim.
- If a change of circumstance occurs, it may leave a claimant with a shortfall to pay, as the housing element would be turned off for the entire assessment period despite there possibly being a rent liability for part of that period. In this case, the claimant can request a Discretionary Housing Payment from the local authority.
- Keeping your DWP Journal up to date
You must keep your Universal Credit journal up to date so you don't lose out. We can help.
Following the annual rent increase it is your responsibility to inform universal credit of the changes in your housing costs.
You must complete the update on your journal before the end of your Universal Credit assessment period in April or you will miss out on the money you are due.
If you need help with your journal please speak to your Income/ Neighbourhood officer.
If you don’t tell the DWP about your rent rise, your Universal Credit won’t be increased to cover your new rent and you could miss out on benefits you are due.
If you receive Housing Benefit you don’t need to do anything. Your benefit will be automatically updated.
If you pay by standing order you need to speak to your bank about increasing your payment.
Make sure you include your rent reference number so your payment reaches your account without delay.
What you need to do
A new 'Confirm your housing costs' message will be in your “To-do List” at the beginning of April each year.
Sign into your Universal Credit online journal at www.universal-credit.service.gov.uk/sign-in and follow these simple steps:
• Click on your To-Do List
• Click on the “Confirm your housing costs To-do”.
You will be asked:
• Has your rent changed? – Select Yes
You will then be asked the following questions:
• “Did your housing costs change on 3rd April 2023” - Select Yes
You will be shown the amount of rent currently recorded on your account and will be asked the following questions:
• “Are you still charged weekly for your rent?” - Select Yes
• “How much is your new rent?” - Enter your weekly rent amount
Once you have answered these questions you will see a summary of your answers. If you have made any mistakes, you can change your answers.
If you are happy with the information, you have provided press confirm to complete the To-Do.