The government is moving many different benefits into one Universal Credit.
It will incorporate the following:
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Benefit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Income-based ESA (but not contribution-based ESA) will move to Universal Credit. The claims process will be the same one used for ESA.
Under Universal Credit each household will make a claim, rather than each individual. It’s one payment, paid monthly and based on all your household’s circumstances.
How will this affect me?
The details for Universal Credit are still being finalised, but one aspect of the new benefit is that it caps the total weekly amount available for each household.
However, this cap does not apply if someone in the household receives certain other benefits, including:
- Disability Living Allowance (or the new Personal Independence Payment)
- Attendance Allowance
- the support component of Employment and Support Allowance.
When will this happen?
Universal Credit will start to be introduced in April 2013, but it won’t affect everyone at the same time.
This is the government’s timeline:
April 2013 – pathfinder: A ‘pathfinder’ stage will launch in certain areas of the North-West of England. The government says this will help them ensure that Universal Credit is ready to go live across the rest of the country later in 2013.
October 2013 – national launch: New claimants will be able to make claims for Universal Credit from this point onwards. New claims for the benefits and credits listed above will be gradually phased out. By April 2014, all new claims will be for Universal Credit.
Existing claimants will move onto Universal Credit at some time between October 2013 and the end of 2017. So, if you currently receive one of the benefits listed above, you will be tested under the Universal Credit criteria and moved onto it if you pass the conditions.
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