It should be kept in mind that if you are on a low income, your income drops (perhaps because of seasonal work) or a member of your household leaves, you may be able to claim benefit for all or part of your rent. If you think you may be eligible, don’t delay - it’s as simple as filling in an application form.
The Highland Council have published an Essential Guide to Benefits, Money Advice, Energy Efficiency and Other Entitlements. Click here to access the document on The Highland Council website. Please be aware that the document is 92 pages long.
Universal Credit is a new benefit which includes an allowance for housing, which will replace Housing Benefit. New claims to Universal Credit began in Portree Job Centre on 16th February 2015.
To find out more, click here to read the Universal Credit Welcome guide on the Government’s website.
Universal Credit will eventually replace 6 existing benefits:
Income-based Jobseekers Allowance;
Income-related Employment and support Allowance;
Child Tax Credits;
Working Tax Credits
Universal Credit is paid in arrears. Every payment you receive is based on your circumstances in the previous month.
When you make a claim to Universal Credit you will not receive your first payment until one month and seven days after your date of claim.
Some benefits are currently paid weekly or fortnightly to claimants. However Universal Credit will be paid to claimants in one monthly payment.
You must have a bank account to receive Universal Credit.
Universal Credit will mean your rent will no longer be paid directly to us - you'll need to pay it yourself from the monthly payment you received. It will be your responsibility to arrange to pay the Housing Association directly yourself.
When you are claiming Universal Credit you are responsible for notifying the Department of Work and Pensions of any changes in circumstances, including rent increases. Letters advising of changes in rent charged are issued to tenants by the Housing Association in February each year.
You will not be able to claim help with your Council Tax within Universal Credit. You will need to complete a Council Tax Reduction form and return it to the Highland Council. Forms are available from any Highland Council Service Point.
How to claim
The Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) preferred channel to make a claim to Universal Credit will be online www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit. Claimants who are unable to use this facility will be able to make a claim by telephone (0845 number), or in a Jobcentre. When you call the 0845 telephone number you can ask DWP to call you back to avoid you from having to pay for the cost of the call.
What should I do now?
You can start to prepare now for the introduction of Universal Credit to ensure you and your family are prepared for any changes to the way your benefit is paid.
One of the biggest changes for many people will be having to manage the household income and budget on a monthly basis. If you are receiving Universal Credit you will have to pay your rent direct to the Housing Association.
Budget for the changes and plan ahead
Many organisations including the Citizens Advice Bureau or The Highland Council Money Advice Team can provide free, confidential and impartial advice on setting up a monthly budget. See contact details.
Ensure you have a bank account to allow you to receive payments
If you do not currently have a bank account you can contact Citizens Advice Bureau or The Highland Council Money Advice Team to get advice on how to set one up ready for the monthly payments. See contact details.
Contact details for advice and assistance
Citizens Advice Bureau
telephone: 01478 612032
The Highland Council’s Income Maximisation and Money Advice Services
telephone: 0800 090 1004
by post: PO Box 5650, Inverness, IV3 5YX