Now Universal Credit has rolled out in Leicester, do you know what you need to do to apply?

By Charlie Bourne

Job Centre Plus picture

JobCentrePlus opening hours

A new benefit known as Universal Credit was rolled out to Leicester applicants last Wednesday, 13th June, which will change how nearly 20,000 people may receive benefits.

Rolled out by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) through Jobcentre Plus, Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people out of work or on a low income that will replace six existing benefits, these are:

What UC is replacing

One of the biggest challenges that comes with applying for Universal Credit, is that it could be more complex depending on an applicant’s circumstance.

Caroline Jackson, Head of Revenues & Customer Support at Leicester City Council, said: “This process is going to be different for a child leaving care, for someone who is homeless and for someone who may have just lost their job.

“The most important thing is if you need extra support, you must inform your Jobcentre. There is no point saying you can cope if you can’t, you must let them know so they can help.”

There has been criticism of the Universal Credit benefit, as it can take up to six weeks to process into bank accounts after the application is finished, sometimes leaving people with little money to spend.

Leicester City Council can offer more support for this issue, Universal Credit applicants can apply for advance payment for a short-term financial boost but this will have to be paid back over the first 12 months of your UC claim.

As applicants need to apply online, Leicester City Council has been working with the DWP to provide “online inclusion” for those who struggle to use computers or may not have online access at home.

Mrs Jackson added: “We’ve been working for two years to make sure enough support is in place for those transitioning to Universal Credit.

“There are community centres and libraries that people can use to apply online so people without online access can still apply.

“Also, there are Universal Credit champions dotted around the city to help people who may already be competent with the internet, but if they have lost a job the pressure that comes with the uncertainty of that can make applying difficult.”

The table below lists the libraries and other free PCs that can be found around the city, these can be used to apply for Universal Credit. You may need to register with a library before booking an appointment.

Locations of free PCs for UC story

Information for Leicester community centres

A report focusing on the impact of tax and welfare reforms, known as the The Equality and Human Rights Commission research report, has found evidence to suggest that a range of people “will be significantly adversely impacted by the reforms.”

The table below shows the average loss per year of each group as a result of tax and benefit changes. (Information gathered from a Leicester City Council document. Weblink: http://www.cabinet.leicester.gov.uk:8071/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=93694).

Average loss screen shot

The biggest losses of income concern households with a disabled child or disabled adult.

Furthermore, the report suggests ethnic minority households will be more adversely impacted than white households, average losses for black households are around 5% less of net income per year.

For more information concerning Universal Credit, visit leicester.gov.uk online.

 

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