Coronavirus lay-offs have caused many people to make their first-ever benefits claim, and has put many pre-existing claimants in further financial uncertainty. Nearly two million people have put in a claim since the Government advised Britons to stay at home back in March.
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a benefit payment for people who are in or out of work.
- You might be able to claim Universal Credit if:
- you’re out of work or on a low income
- you’re aged 18 or over, but there are some exceptions if you’re 16 or 17
- you or your partner are under state pension age
- you and your partner have less than £16,000 in savings
- you live in the UK
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Universal Credit is made up of a basic allowance but you can get more, including help for housing costs, bringing up children, caring or sickness and disability.
The amount you get in Universal Credit can go down or up depending on what income you get from:
- a pension
- other benefits
- savings and capital above £6,000
Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, so you’ll have to wait one calendar month from the date you submitted your application before your first UC payment is made, which is called your assessment period.
What is your Universal Credit Journal?
Your online account consists of several parts, one of them being your journal.
Journal is a part of your online account – it is where you keep all of your records relating to Universal Credit.
You can use your online Universal Credit account to:
- keep a record of the things you’ve done to prepare or look for work
- send messages to your work coach and read messages they send you
- report a change of circumstances
- record childcare costs
- provide details about a health condition or disability
- see how much your Universal Credit payments are
- check what you have agreed to do in your Claimant Commitment
- tell your work coach you cannot meet with them due to illness
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You can also use the journal to send messages to your work coach, and they can use it to reply or send their own messages to you.
These online conversations will be stored here so that you and your work coach can look back to see what you have agreed.
You should use the journal to tell your work coach about things such as job applications, job interviews and any training you have done.
If your work coach has something they want to share with you – such as a CV you have been working on together – this will also be stored in your journal.
Coronavirus and Universal Credit
Due to the ongoing crisis, Universal Credit has become a lifeline to nearly two million people in the UK.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said there had been more than 1.8 million claims since 16 March, when Britons were first instructed to stay at home.
She said: “Overall, this is six times the volume that we would typically experience and in one week we had a tenfold increase”.
She said about 8,000 staff had been redeployed to deal with the claims.
You do not need to attend any Jobcentre Plus appointments or health assessments in person during the coronavirus pandemic.
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