From 6 October 2021, the amount of Universal Credit standard personal allowance will go down by £86.67 a month for all Universal credit claimants. This means that any payments of Universal Credit after the 6th October will be made at the reduced rate. The basic standard monthly amounts (excluding any housing costs or limited capability for work elements) will now be:
- Under 25 - £257.33 per month.
- Single and over 25 - £324.84 per month.
- Couple both under 25 - £403.93 per month
- Couple both over 25 - £509.91 per month.
With rising energy prices and other costs rising we know that this will cause severe financial stress for a great number of Universal credit claimants. With this in mind we have produced a guide (below) which hopefully may help you at this difficult time and lists some actions which you might be able to take and some of the ways that Welfare Rights team can support with this.
Some of the information links provided are external to the Nottingham City Welfare Rights service so any advice contained is the responsibility of the website owners and their organisations.
Make sure you are claiming all benefits you are entitled to
Contact us for support to check your benefits and ensure that you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to including any disability benefits. Contact us via our duty telephone helpline on (0115 9151355) and our advisors can support you. We will look at all of your household circumstances including any additional benefits for other members of your household including partners and children. When you contact us we will take your details and arrange a call back, usually this for the next day, so you will get a quick answer and you might find you have been missing out.
Every year billions of pounds of benefits go unclaimed so it is well worth checking even if you have done so in the past and have not been eligible.
If you prefer to check this for yourself there are a number of online benefit calculators.
Please do be aware that the interaction between the different benefits is often complex and therefore in some cases it is difficult to get a clear answer without expert support. We would recommend calling us where you can.
If you have no income and need support then call us a soon as possible. We may be able to assist you with a referral for a voucher for a local food bank. The food banks have been effected by COVID-19 and have different arrangements in place. Our team will be able to give you the latest position in relation to these and how best to access the food banks if you call us. They will also be able to give you advice on the support you might be able to get from your energy supplier with your energy costs and emergency support for gas and electricity charges.
Get support with your rent and make sure to prioritise this
Make sure that you are getting the correct level of support with your housing costs. The first stage of this is to ensure that if you have housing costs that they are included in your Universal Credit claim. If you are subject to the bedroom tax or have your rent limited due to local housing allowance rules you might be eligible for further support from a discretionary housing payment. If you want further information on this please call us on our advice line on (0115 9151355). Some pages giving some basic advice on who can claim a discretionary housing payment can be found here.
You may also be subject to charges in relation other adults who live with you such as adult children in the form of non- dependent deductions. We can support you with this as we can check that these are being applied at the correct rates. Also entitlement to certain benefits can exempt you from these charges so we can check if you should be exempt now or if you have grounds to make a new claim for a benefit that might exempt you from the charges.
Make sure that you prioritise your rent payments. If you are having problems with your other debts contact us as we may be able to help you to negotiate lower payments to ensure that you can still keep up with your rent payments. See our further help with debt and money advice issues section from more details.
Make sure you are claiming Council Tax Support
If you are claiming Universal credit then you will need a separate claim for Council Tax Support from your local council. Often people don’t claim this as they do not realise that you have to claim this in addition to your Universal credit. If you are just on the basic rate of Universal credit then this could reduce your bills by up to 80%.
You can apply for Council Tax Reduction here.
If you have transferred from previous benefits onto Universal Credit and already have a Council Tax Support claim then you need to ensure that you provide proof of your income to Council Tax Support in order for them to continue to pay your claim. The claim will be likely to be suspended when you change over benefits and if you do not provide this information then this could be cancelled. Make sure that you provide the relevant proofs as possible to avoid this happening.
Get support to reduce your ongoing debt payments
We can offer support with debt issues. We can help to negotiate with your creditors and try to reduce the amount you are paying to your debts. We can also look at any long-term options such as bankruptcy or debt relief orders. We will also help give budgeting advice and makes sure that we maximise your income. To find the full details of the support we can offer and some important steps that you can before seeking advice see our debts pages.
Reduce the deductions from your Universal Credit
If you are having debts such as a Budgeting Loan or Benefit Overpayments taken from your benefits then these can be reduced in some cases where you are suffering hardship. You can call the Debt Management Department of the DWP on 0800 916 0647 and they will go through a financial statement with you. If you need further advice/support with this then call us on 0115 9151355.
There is also the option with Universal Credit Advances to defer the payments for up to three months, which may allow you time to deal with a short-term crisis. You can do this via the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.
Ways to increase your income and reduce the money you have to pay out
There are a number of useful ways that you can reduce the amount you have to pay on bills for example and there may be ways that you might increase your overall income. We have a section on this “ Ways you can increase your income and reduce the amount of money you need to pay out” that can be accessed from here.
Nottingham Jobs is the City Council's employment and skills brokerage service providing specialist support to employers and job seekers within Nottingham and its neighbourhoods. It is delivered in partnership with the DWP and Futures with funding from the European Social Fund. They have provided the below information about how these services can help if you are looking for work:
Jobs, advice, support and training opportunities
If you are out of work, on reduced hours or looking to gain new skills, support is available for you through Nottingham Jobs.
Whatever your age or circumstances, we’ll help you find or apply for jobs, update your CV, learn interview tips, gain confidence and much more. We’re not just a recruitment agency, we’ll get to know you and will treat you as an individual to get you the support you need.
You can call us on 0115 876 4508 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm) or if you prefer register with Nottingham Jobs online and we’ll contact you to find out more about whatever it is you’re looking for help with.
You can also contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.