Campaigning for Change – Citizens Advice
Bath and North East Somerset
Universal Credit – for all new claimants in Bath Job Centre area
What is Universal Credit?
It’s a benefit which combines 6 previous means tested benefits – Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment & Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.
Means tested is when the amount you get is worked out according to other income or savings you may have.
It’s paid monthly (in most cases) and you receive your first payment 6 weeks after you claim.
This is a long time to wait so you can get something called an Advance Payment to tide you over. This is gradually paid back by a reduction in what you get in your monthly payments. You have to ask for an Advance Payment – it is not automatic.
Universal Credit has been paid to people in Bath Job Centre since 2014 and since May 2016 it is being paid to new claimants who are disabled or not well enough to work for the first time. People claiming the old benefits will also move onto Universal Credit if their circumstances change.
In the old system of the 6 different benefits, some ill or disabled people got extra money called premiums to help with the costs of being ill long term. This extra money does not exist in Universal Credit so many people will be much worse off. They tend to be the people who are unlikely to be able to increase their income by working because of their medical conditions.
We think this is unfair so are monitoring what is going on. We are recording the drops in income people have and asking them about how they are managing. We are working with other local Citizens Advice offices throughout the country to put our findings together and lobby the Government to try to make sure vulnerable people do not suffer under the new benefit system.
We have done this before – in 2015 we campaigned with other Citizens Advice local offices about the way Universal Credit is paid and how people are helped with their claims. It’s now possible to get it paid fortnightly or separate amounts to 2 people in a couple, and your rent can be paid directly to your landlord for a short time.
You have to claim digitally on a computer although if this is not possible you can do it by phone. We want to know how this is working.
Please help us make things better again! Tell us about your experience of claiming Universal Credit by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or ringing our Research team on 01225 303824.
If you need advice with any aspect of your claim or you have been sanctioned please contact us – details are on the Home page.
One of our aims at Citizens Advice is to improve the policies and practices that affect people’s lives.
We collect evidence of clients’ problems and use this, in the form of anonymous case studies, to campaign for changes in national and local policies and services. We have a key role in speaking up for clients, raising issues brought into the bureau, contributing to public debate and informing legislation.
Our policy/campaign work covers a wide range of issues including consumer, debt, housing, benefits, immigration, employment, legal matters and health.
We are independent and impartial so policymakers listen to us.
Other ways to get involved…
You may also want to contact your local MP or councillor, yourself, about an issue that concerns you. Find and contact your local MP by using this link – www.theyworkforyou.com
Or find and contact your local councillor via local.direct.gov.uk