2018 is almost over and 2019 is just around the corner. Universal Credit was a big issue for Quids In! readers this year, and it looks set to be next year, too. We share a rundown of what we learned and the key things claimants need to know…
Get the correct ID, ASAP!
Not having the right ID is one of the big stumbling blocks in claiming Universal Credit. It can delay a claim for weeks. The standard form of ID they ask for is a bank statement or previous letter from DWP or HMRC. Other documents are sometimes accepted, so speak to a phone operator at the Jobcentre to make sure.
If possible, get the right ID together before your claim starts – it’s also crucial for opening a bank account. Check out our guide to what ID you’ll need, here.
In our latest Quids In! Reader Survey, 61% of you said you had access to a bank account. That’s a slight improvement on our last survey, but still means 4 in 10 of our readers don’t have a bank account.
It’s absolutely crucial to have a bank account when claiming Universal Credit, as it’s how the benefit is (almost always) paid. The good news is that basic bank accounts make it easier for us all to get banking, and are free to use. Look at our guide to them here, and get banking!
Get Budgeting (in both directions!
At its most basic, a personal budget is just a way to make sure we’ve got more coming in than is going out. The trick is to think of incoming as much as outgoing. Everyone should do a benefit check, using online checkers like turn2us or entitledto. This will tell you about any extra benefits you can claim as well as pointing to any grants you might be eligible for.
Once that’s done, consider all of the ways of bringing in a little extra. Check out our tips to boosting your income here.
Prepare for the change (and save)!
One of the biggest problems with claimants switching over to Universal Credit is the 5 week wait for the first payment. The government has now introduced an advance payment system to help claimants bridge the gap. The problem with the advance is that it is a loan, and is clawed back each month from your UC.
If you know Universal Credit is being rolled out in your area, plan ahead for the five-week gap in payments. Putting a little bit aside each week, if possible, in the lead up to starting a UC claim is the best advice we can give. Check out our guide to savings, here.
Being online is so important when claiming Universal Credit. The whole UC system is designed to be accessed online, and if we’re not online we can run into serious problems with it. Claimants will need an email address, and access to a computer, tablet or smartphone to be able to fill out online forms.
Over 90% of our readers who responded to our 2018 survey have online access, which is good news. If you’re reading this, you’re already one of the 90%. But if you know someone not online, encourage them to get online as soon as possible.
If you follow these key steps, it’s much more likely that your Universal Credit claim will go smoothly. For much, much more information about Universal Credit, have a look at our section on it here.