Autumn Budget 2017: Universal Credit waiting time cut
If you’re applying for Universal Credit, the time you’ll have to wait for your first payment has changed. That’s thanks to an announcement in the recent Autumn Budget 2017 speech.
The change removes the initial waiting period when people apply for Universal Credit, so people can get their money faster. And what’s more, it also changes how you can apply for an advance payment if you’re really struggling.
Are you worried about how Universal Credit will affect you? Do you currently receive benefits and what to know what will change when you switch over? Don’t worry – we’ll take you through what these Universal Credit changes mean for you.
What’s changing with Universal Credit?
When you apply for Universal Credit, you have a total of about six weeks before you get your first payment. This is includes a seven-day waiting period, a four-week assessment period and up to another seven days until you get the money.
This new change removes that first seven-day waiting period. So you’ll now have a total of up to five weeks before you get your first Universal Credit payment.
The five-week period also applies if you were receiving benefits already and have moved over to Universal Credit. This includes anyone receiving Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), income-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits.
In another change, people currently receiving Housing Benefit will keep getting this for two weeks after they move to Universal Credit. This means they can keep paying their landlord and they won’t go into rent arrears. This change will apply from April 2018.
And if you’re struggling when you apply for Universal Credit, from January you can apply for a full month’s advance payment. You’ll be able to do this just five days after you apply for Universal Credit. Currently, applicants can only apply for half a month’s payment.
You’ll then have 12 months to pay this advance back, with no interest. This just means your Universal Credit payments will be slightly lower to cover the advance.
How does this help if you’re applying for benefits?
If you’re applying for or moving to Universal Credit, these changes can help you to stay on track with your finances. As you won’t have as long to wait before you get money, this will make it easier to meet your bills.
The Housing Benefit change means that people will still be able to keep up with their rent payments. Currently, Housing Benefits recipients don’t get anything while they’re changing over to Universal Credit. If this change affects you, one thing to think about is if your Housing Benefit currently goes straight to your landlord. If it does, it might not when you move to Universal Credit – so make sure you sort this to avoid falling into arrears.
Looking to read more about the Budget announcements? You can get a quick overview of the biggest changes with our blog on the Autumn Budget 2017.