Universal credit

Universal Credit (UC) is a new benefit payment that supports people who are on low incomes or out of work.

Here are some ways that you can prepare for the introduction of UC when it arrives.

Make sure you have a bank account

To receive Universal Credit payments, you will need a bank or building society account, or an account with an alternative provider such as a credit union.

Decide whether you need a joint account

If you live with your partner, and you’re both eligible for Universal Credit, you’ll get a single monthly payment which can be paid into either a joint or an individual account. A joint account can make budgeting a lot easier. It gives you both equal control over the money but there are a few things you need to weigh up before you go ahead and open one. However, there are some circumstances where this might not be the best option.

Check whether you can set up automated bill payments

If you get help with your rent, this will be included in your monthly payment – you’ll then need to pay your landlord yourself. If you have a credit union account or a prepaid card account, check that you can set up automated payments for things like rent and bills. If you can’t, you should open a basic bank account, or find a different provider.

Draw up a monthly budget

Because Universal Credit is paid monthly, you may need to make changes to the way you budget, especially when you move from the old to the new system.

Make sure you have access to the internet

You will be expected to claim Universal Credit and manage your account online. If you need help getting online, your local library can help you to find a course. Most libraries and Job Centre Plus offices also have computers which are usually free of charge to use. You will also need an email address as codes will be sent there, and for a joint claim your partner will need to use a different email address.

If you don’t have a computer or laptop, find out where to get online for free on the UK Online website

VOCAL ‘Money Matters’ surgeries

For advice on benefits and other financial matters, book an appointment at one of VOCAL’s free Money Matters surgeries.

Contact VOCAL