Universal Credit, the so-called new welfare state, has been plagued by back-to-back problems since launching in the UK led mostly by its controversial five week wait for first payments.
However, 2.7million people are already enrolled onto it – and more in counting as the roll-out continues.
But what other help can you claim once you’re on the new six-in-one benefit and how can you access the extra perks?
Those on Universal Credit can claim back up to 85% of their childcare costs, as well as access free work clothes to get to and from interviews. Half price train and bus travel is also available as well as a savings scheme that gives you a 50p bonus for every £1 you manage to lock away.
“Universal Credit can help you pay essential bills, such as housing and childcare,” Minister for Welfare Delivery, Will Quince, said.
“We know life can be complicated at times, but claiming benefits doesn’t have to be. If you need help, our staff are here to simplify the system and make sure you’re getting the right level of support.”
- Up to 85% of childcare costs can be reimbursed through Universal Credit. Employed claimants can claim up to £646.35 per month if you have one child and up to £1,108.40 for two or more children. For more information visit the Understanding Universal Credit website.
- You can get up to 50% off train and bus travel if you are eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card. This can help you get to interviews and appointments as well as other journeys you make. Those receiving Jobseekers Allowance may also be eligible.
- Not having ‘work clothes’ doesn’t have to stop you accepting a job. A Flexible Support Fund is available to help you cover the costs of starting work. This money does not have to be paid back, and can cover the costs of things like clothing and uniforms to start work, and travel to interviews.
- If you are having a child, you may be entitled to a one off payment known as the Sure Start Maternity Grant. Households on Universal Credit can benefit from a one-off payment of £500. This does not have to be paid back and will not affect the benefit payments you receive.
- You could save on your Council Tax bill and in some cases you may not need to pay anything at all. Depending on your circumstances and where you live you may be eligible for a Council Tax Reduction. Apply for one online at gov.uk.
- You can get help to start saving. The government’s Help to Save scheme offers people who receive Universal Credit, and some people entitled to Working Tax Credit, incentives to save anything from £1 up to £50 per month. After two years of saving, the government will give you an extra 50p for every £1 you have saved.
Applicants can get additional support with a Universal Credit application through Citizen Advice’s Help to Claim service.
The charity can help with all aspects of your application, or you can visit your local Jobcentre for further support.
If you are unsure about something relating your Universal Credit claim call the DWP’s Universal Credit hotline on 0800 328 5644, or visit the Understanding Universal Credit website.