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Universal Credit is coming !

Started by Tombenefits   on 03 October 2017 at 19:17
Edited on 13 October 2017 at 20:27


Rumours of Universal Credit have for many of us had something of that "far away country, of which we know nothing" feel about them. But the winds of change are blowing and it may be time to don tin hats and Keep Calm and Have More Cake :-).

For good or ill, UC will be coming to an area near you soon and to your area by this time next year at the latest...

There has been speculation as to whether difficulties in the few areas under UC Full Service so far might suggest that it might be wise to hold some horses. 


1. The UC timetable is not changing

Yesterday, the Government announced that it is sticking to the timetable to really crank up the roll out of full Universal Credit this month.

That timetable is set out here. 

There has been much lobbying by housing associations,  charities and MPs of all parties, for a pause to allow some real problems to be sorted .

However, there is a really useful change that will help with one of the general big problems, namely the long wait until first payment. 

The many other issues that have been raised are being fed into the ongoing "test and learn" tweaking process, which may be a challenge as the pace picks up. 

See more about the announcement here


2. So whats happening exactly?

Universal Credit is more than just a merger of the main income related or means tested benefits in working age. 

It is about doing benefits in a very different way with quite a hint of tough love involved :-)

But doesn't UC already exist in all areas except N.Ireland? So what's all the the fuss about?

Well in most areas - known as UC "gateway" areas- you can only start a new UC claim if you are a fit and active jobseeker. So it hasn't been such an issue, so far, for people affected by cancer 

But the pace that is being picked up this month, is the rate at which all areas are "transitioning" to Full Service UC. 

And that means the all singing, all dancing new UC computer that - fingers x :-) is ready to welcome all comers: the unwell, carers, those on low or temporarily reduced earnings or needing help with the costs of raising children.

So what may becoming even more of a conversation point around Kitchen Tables that cover some Full UC area - West London, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Highland Centres, will now be spreading quickly across all Centres .

And as the Online Centre is omnipresent popping up here more often here too :-)


2. What does "transition" mean in practise?

After "transition" almost all new claims for most  income related help in a Full Service UC area will be for Universal Credit, rather than the previous "legacy benefits".

So familiar benefits like Income-related ESA, Income Support or Housing Benefit, will mostly, but not entirely closed off to new claims in a UC Full Service area

Non-means tested benefits like Contributory ESA, PIP and Carer's Allowance all stay well outside UC. There are though some odd UC-related effects on C-ESA. 

It is mainly a "working age" change, so older folk are largely unaffected. But in time there will be some knock on effects to Pension Credit, which stays outside UC but will in time be rather changed by it. More on that another time. 


3. New claims and existing ones. 

New claims: If you are only starting up under Full Service UC: It's just a matter of how to do that? How does the UC claim system work? And what do I do when it doesn't quite do so?

People already on non-Full Service UC - you will notice Full Service UC woks a bit diiferntly compared to your prevous "gateway" UC . You may well have to set up an account on the the new Full Service sytem. 

People getting a legacy benefit: If you are already claiming one of the "legacy benefits", the earth will not move for you come Transition Day :-)

You will stay on your existing benefits until either: 

   - there is a change that would normally have involved a new claim under the old system which may cause a "natural migration" to UC

   - or you are picked out after July 2019 for your "managed migration" over to UC.

But you could switch if you wanted? But should you? Will holding on as long as possible make any difference? (spoiler alert - Yes)  If I'm told to switch due to a change is that right? And whenever I do switch what differences will I see? 

But don't let me confine imaginations and all questions, weird and wonderful are welcome :-) Just as there is no end to what UC will do next.


4. Some useful further information 


You can check if your area is currently Full Service UC by entering your postcode here.

But planning ahead, you can see the timetable - and when your area is due to transition to Full Service UC here.

General UC information:

Some really useful general information about UC is available at : 

   - Citizens Advice here

   - Newcastle City Council - one of the first cities to go fully UC Full Service - here.

And Online Centre?

I will be be ramping up some blogs, conversations and information focussed on UC and people affected by cancer. I will post as new ones go up .

First will be a two part general introduction and overview:  

   - Part 1:  What is UC? Who does it affect? Which UC? When? and Where? 

   - Part 2 Why UC? and that crucially explains How UC is meant to work?






But meanwhile...

As always though, you don't have to await with bated breath nor do lots reading if that's not helpful for you.

If you have any worries, queries or concerns about this significant - and currently, rather chaotic change, then please just message me. 

Best wishes,


Online centre Benefits Advisor

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