May 2016 – Universal Credit Update
The national roll out of the Universal Credit (UC) full service will begin in May. UC has already been introduced for new claimants who satisfy gateway conditions in designated areas. The full service has no gateway conditions and so a new claimant comes under UC because they live in a designated area.
Some current claimants may also be affected if they have a change of circumstances that would prompt them to make a claim for any of the benefits UC is replacing – such as Income Support, income based Jobseekers Allowance, Housing Benefit or tax credits.
The national roll out of this full service for new claimants is due to take place between May 2016 and June 2018. This will then be followed by the migration of current claimants onto UC between 2018 and 2021. The first jobcentres to deliver UC will be in Bath, Newcastle, Rugby, Bridgewater and Lowestoft.
Claimants living in full service areas will be required to claim UC instead of any of the benefits that UC replaces. So for example a current claimant living in a full service area who has a child and tries to claim Child Tax Credit will be required to claim UC and will also have their existing Housing Benefit and Jobseekers Allowance also converted to UC. The service for UC emphasises digital claiming and so claims are made online and the majority of communication is via an online UC account. The DWP says that support for those who find digital communication difficult and have other complex needs will be provided locally in partnership with local authorities and other private or voluntary providers under arrangements known as Universal Credit Delivered Locally.
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