THE government has launched a new tool to help you check if you can claim up to £12,600 in Universal Credit or other benefits.
The online tool is free to use and takes just a few minutes to complete.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it's launching the tool as 700,000 Brits on benefits could be eligible for additional support.
Meanwhile, many in low-paid work may not know they can claim Universal Credit, it added.
Universal Credit has replaced six other benefits with a single monthly payment if you are out of work or on low income.
Some households may be entitled to thousands of pounds a year depending on their individual circumstances.
How much will I get in Universal Credit?
SIMPLY go to the GOV.UK website and use one of the free calculators to check how much you may be entitled to.
Before using the tools, make sure you have any financial information to hand, such as bank and savings statements, and information on pensions and existing benefits.
You also need to know your outgoings, such as rent or childcare payments, as well as have a recent council tax bill to hand.
If you're part of a family or live with a partner, get their basic financial information together too as this could affect your claim.
To then make a claim, follow the steps below.
For example, a couple living together with two children earning £7,350 a year could get £12,600 in Universal Credit – or £21,000 with housing costs, the DWP said.
Meanwhile, a single parent with one child earning £7,350 a year could get around £7,500 – or £14,000 with housing costs.
If you live by yourself, earn £7,350 a year and don't have any kids, you could get around £300 – roughly £7,000 with housing costs.
Universal Credit claimants may also be eligible for more than £1,000 in child benefit, discretionary housing payments, disability living allowance, a council tax reduction as well as free school meals for children.
The easiest way to access these benefits is by claiming Universal Credit.
The new tool asks between five and ten questions about your current situation, and should only take up to three minutes to complete.
Will Quince, minister for welfare delivery, said: "Checking eligibility for Universal Credit is now easier than ever thanks to the launch of our benefits eligibility tool.
"If you are, you’ll also be able to receive additional benefits, such as half-price travel and childcare payments."
"If you think you’re eligible to claim, please do check, so you can see what support you may be able to access."
What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit
IF you’re experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don’t cover costs, here are your options:
- Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it's a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit payout.
- Alternative Payment Arrangements – If you're falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you're part of a couple.
- Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the Government for emergency household costs of up to £348 if you're single, £464 if you're part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You'll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You'll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
- Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax or be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your existing ones aren't enough to cover your rent.
- Foodbanks – If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.
How to claim Universal Credit
If you think you're eligible for Universal Credit, you'll then need to go to the GOV.UK website and fill in the details to make a claim.
Just keep in mind that any benefits which Universal Credit is replacing, such as working tax credit or child tax credit, will end once you submit an application.
You also won’t be able to claim them again even if it’s decided that you aren’t entitled to any Universal Credit payments.
Once you set up an account and make a claim, the DWP will call you if they need any further details from you.
It'll then message you via the Universal Credit online journal as your claim progresses.
If you are eligible, it'll take five weeks between claiming and your first payment – though advances are available to those who need them.
Brits on Universal Credit should get their first payment after two weeks, a powerful groups of peers demanded in July.
And in a huge boost for The Sun's Make Universal Credit Work campaign, the Lords Economic Affairs Committee backed all of our main asks of the government for how to repair the troubled benefits programme.
Meanwhile, thousands of Brits on benefits will receive an extra two weeks worth of payments when they’re rolled onto Universal Credit.
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