“I’m in a minimum wage job and am claiming housing benefit and tax credits to help cover my bills. A friend has told me that when I move on to Universal Credit I will need to find a better paying job or my benefits will be cut, is this true? I’m worried I don’t have the skills to get a better job.” Steve A, Doncaster
Penny says: Dear Steve,
Thanks for contacting me, I agree all the ‘hoo ha’ in the media about Universal Credit can be worrying. Thing is, unless you have a change in circumstances which could trigger a move to Universal Credit, the DWP have said most claimants won’t be moved across until November 2020 at the earliest, this is under what they call their their managed migration.
Even if you do get migrated across, most people won’t be any worse off. The differences you will notice are that your Housing costs will be claimed in with your UC from the DWP and you won’t deal with HMRC anymore. What you will need to remember is that help with council tax is NOT included in UC, so you will have to make sure you have a claim for Council Tax Support with your local council.
If you are worried about the amount that you might get under UC compared to how much you currently get from Tax Credits and HB, you can do a benefits check on the Quids in! website. There are others at turn2us or entitledto or betteroffcalculator. These helpful websites all show your full entitlements and other things both under the old legacy system and under the new UC.
As for your skills, why not think about learning a new skill for the future, there are many courses out there, some offer free or discount rates for those on low incomes and who knows you may be able to get that better paid job sooner than you think.
Some landlords have benefits advisers who can do benefits checks for you, some offer schemes where you can upskill and take courses all free for tenants. Might be worth checking out their website or asking at your local housing office.
Hopefully, that you should help you sleep at night.
Got a question for Penny? Ask us in the comments below, tweet us or email us.