Universal Credit and other benefits

Universal Credit and benefits can be quite a jungle if you haven't previously applied. For this reason, most groups have a Benefits Lead whose primary role is to navigate this field on behalf of the family.

What you can do BEFORE the family arrives

  1. Be familiar with the profile your family so you can plan your budget.
  2. Apply for a TV license in the family’s name.
  3. Have the landlord write and post a letter to the property confirming the names on the lease are tenants and they live at the address stated on the tenancy. Post this the day of arrival/first few days of the family’s arrival/start of the lease.
  4. Phone numbers for each adult (buy SIM cards before the family arrives).
  5. Be prepared to apply for UC as soon as you can after the family’s arrival. UC is back-payed to the day you hit “send” on the original application.
  6. Apply online or in-person? Online is easiest and will likely prevail for the foreseeable future while the pandemic remains an issue.

To make a claim

Citizens Advice has put together this very helpful guide to Universal Credit. The page offers step-by-step guidance such as what information you need to gather before you start your application. Some key documents:

  • A bank account (note that you can initially use the group's bank account to make the claim and later change the bank details to the family's)
  • Email address for each claim
  • Phone number for each claim (buy a SIM card in advance)
  • (Tenancy Agreement)

To make a claim or sign in to return to an existing one, click on this link.

MAKE SURE YOU MAKE THE CLAIM AS SOON AS THE FAMILY HAS ARRIVED. The reason for this is that the benefits are only backdated to the date you press "apply" in the system.

Attachment - West Hampstead Welcomes Benefit Budget

Attachment - Universal Credit presentation from West Hampstead Welcomes

We advise that if you're filing for a couple, use your phone number for one of the accounts. That way you're sure to receive key information and take action when urgent.

Once the family arrives, you will need to file the following documents:

  • BRPs
  • NIN (Located on the back of the BRP)
  • Bank Account (Need BRP first)
  • Proof of Address (utility bill, NHS registration proof, landlord letter)
  • Tenancy Agreement (does not count as proof of address)
  • Letter from child/ren’s school confirming home address and enrolment
  • ESOL registration documents showing proof of address

Tip! Write a note identifying yourself as the claimant’s caseworker. Even though you are a host/friend and not a caseworker, this is the language UC understands. Also, give a little background on the claimant’s situation. 

After you file a claim

  • Check the account every day
  • Make sure to attend all telephone appointments
  • Upload documents when asked to
  • Show your family how to log on and check their account
  • Don’t forget to apply for a Travel Discount Card

Tip! Supply your own translator if you can.

You can watch our Lunch & Learn Universal Credit recording here where Theo Yardley from the West Hampstead Group walks us through the process followed by a Q&A.

Meeting Recording here

Access Passcode: .!M8RegW

Attachment - Theo Yardley's presentation on Universal Credit

How employments impact Universal Credit

If there is no child and no disability, money earned is deducted 1:1 (pound for pound) from the claim.

If there is a child and/or the claimant has a disability and receives LCW/LCWRA then the claimant can earn up to £293/mo before income is deducted from benefits. If you earn more than £293/mo - 63p is deducted for every £1 earned above £293/mo.

Example: If you earn £393/mo, £100 is “taxed” at 63% and £63 is deducted from your monthly benefits earnings.

Child benefits and Limited Capability to Work (LCW & LCWRA)

Child benefits are separate from Universal Credit and hence must be applied for using a different system. To claim child benefits, you should complete this form.

Print the completed form and send it along with the original BRP and birth certificate via registered mail.

Tip: Apply for Child Benefit as soon as you can after the BRP arrives but don’t forget you will also need the BRP for school/GP/etc. 

Important! Read how you might get free childcare for a 2-year-old if you live in England here.

If you are based in Scotland, the rules are slightly different. You can read more here.

You can find guidance on how to apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) here.

Travel discount

Family members on Universal Credit receive a significant discount on their travel.

If you're based in Scotland, check out this Citizens Advice page on Concessionary fares and free travel. You can also read this article for helpful information on travel discounts in Scotland.

Broadband discount for UC claimants

BT has announced plans to offer fibre broadband at less than half price to any household in the UK which is receiving universal credit. You can read more here.

Universal Credit presentation from Theo (1).pdf