Universal Credit brings together six existing benefits (Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credits, and Housing Benefit) into one simpler, single monthly payment, for claimants who are out of work, or in work on a low income. It includes support for the costs of housing, children and childcare, as well as support for disabled people and carers.
Universal Credit is now being expanded to all people making a new claim in Oxfordshire. Areas within Abingdon, Didcot and Oxford went live in October 2017.
The claimed benefits of the new system are, that it will provide a more flexible workforce, making it easier to employ and retain staff. It will also be easier for claimants to start a new job or work more hours. There are no limits to the number of hours a claimant can work a week, as their take home pay increases, their Universal Credit reduces gradually so they won’t lose all their benefit at once and should be better off.
Claimants no longer need to close their claim down when they start work. Crucially for employers and claimants, Universal Credit ends the 16 hour rule that means claimants have to restrict their working hours in order to keep their benefits. Universal Credit claimants get to keep some of every pound that they earn while claiming (subject to certain limits), on top of their benefit – which helps to make work pay.
How to claim
When claimants start work they need to tell the Jobcentre who their employer is. Earnings information is collected automatically for most claimants via HMRC’s electronic Real Time Information (RTI) system which is linked to employers’ PAYE systems. The vast majority of employers report in this way so claimants don’t need to keep declaring work. For the minority of employees who are not covered by the RTI system, they may have to self-report in the same way as self-employed claimants do by contacting the service centre.
You can find more information about how to report PAYE in real time, along with how to get the right software to do it, from www.gov.uk (Universal Credit and Employers).
Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, in the same way most people’s salaries are paid, directly into an account claimants have chosen.
Most claimants apply for Universal Credit online at GOV.UK. Most people already use the internet to access services and to get information instantly. If claimants cannot claim online, telephone support (and, exceptionally, face to face support) is available.
Universal Credit has been introduced gradually from April 2013. This means that existing claimants may continue to get their old-style benefits for a while, if their circumstances stay the same.
If you have any further queries, please read Universal Credit and employers and Universal Credit and employers: frequently asked questions, or contact SO Business and we can provide more information.