Responding to the government's announcement today that Universal Credit rollout will go ahead later this month, Oxford City Council is calling for Oxford residents to get ready for Universal Credit.
Universal Credit will replace a number of existing benefits and tax credits for working age people who want to make new claims. Claims for Universal Credit will have to be made online, and most existing benefit payments will be replaced by a single monthly payment paid directly into a claimant’s bank account.
Universal Credit claims are managed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The council has agreed with the DWP to provide support for Universal Credit claimants who struggle to either manage a monthly budget, or to make and manage an online claim.
Anyone who claims Universal Credit will have to wait at least six weeks before they get their first full payment, although they can ask for an advance payment. An advance payment will give claimants half of their expected Universal Credit award, and their future monthly payments will be reduced while they pay their advance back – usually within six months.
The DWP announced today that advance payments will now be offered upfront. People who apply for an advance payment will get this within five working days, and on the same day in cases of immediate need.
Councillor Susan Brown, Board Member for Customer and Corporate Services, said: “We welcome the DWP’s announcement that it will fast track advance payments for people in immediate need. I hope that these advance payments can be implemented alongside the rollout, as Citizens Advice has shown that Universal Credit waiting periods and payment delays lead to debt, rent arrears and the risk of homelessness. We will work closely with our partners in the city to mitigate the risk that Universal Credit poses to our most vulnerable residents.
“My message to people who may need to claim Universal Credit in Oxford is that you need to have a bank account, you need to be able to pay your rent and bills and manage your other costs on a monthly basis, and you need to be able to make and manage your claim online. It’s very different to any benefits or tax credits people get now, and we will help anyone in Oxford who has difficulty managing their monthly payment or who cannot claim online.”
To find out more about Universal Credit, see our Universal Credit pages.