I don’t have access to the internet to make my claim where can I go?
The form is very confusing; I don’t think I can fill it in, is there any help available?
Top Tip: Many of the online claim questions have a box next to them saying “What does this mean?” It’s a good idea to click on these even if you think you know what the question means, just to be certain.
What information do I need to hand to fill in the claim form?
IMPORTANT: The online claim form asks “Do you pay rent?” This means “Are you liable to pay rent?” - the answer will always be YES if you or your partner have a tenancy, even if you’ve not actually been paying us any rent because you’ve been getting Housing Benefit to pay it.
IMPORTANT: The online claim form asks how much rent you pay. This is the full “eligible rent”– not the shortfall you’ve been paying if you’ve been getting part Housing Benefit. Contact us if you’re not sure what this is.
How do I verify my identity when claiming online?
Part of the claiming process includes verifying your identity online using the government’s ‘Verify’ service.
You can use a:
If your identity cannot be verified using the government’s ‘Verify’ service, you will need to phone 0345 6004272 to book an appointment for a ‘verification interview’ at your Job centre (this is different to the ‘new claim interview’). You must bring all the evidence and documents you have been asked to provide to this interview.
IMPORTANT: If you do not book or attend the verification interview appointment when required, your claim may be cancelled.
What happens after I claim online?
When you fill in your online claim you will also need to book an appointment via your online account for a ‘new claim interview’ at your local job centre.
If you have problems doing this ring 0345 6004272 immediately.
You must go to this appointment – if you definitely can’t, you must ring 0345 6000723 (or any other number you are given) and arrange another date.
IMPORTANT: If you do not book or attend the new claim interview appointment when required, your claim may be cancelled.
What happens at the new claim interview?
At this interview you must bring all the evidence and documents you have been asked to provide. If you can’t, you must let the Job Centre know why.
At the appointment you (and your partner) will be expected to sign a claimant commitment, setting out what you agree to do in order to receive the benefit.
This could range from searching for work full-time, to nothing, depending on your circumstances.
It is important you are clear to the ‘work coach’ about your abilities and responsibilities so you are not set unrealistic expectations.
If you do not meet the expectations placed upon you, your Universal Credit could be reduced or stopped.
IMPORTANT: If you (and your partner if you have one) don’t sign the Claimant Commitment/s, you won’t get any Universal Credit.
IMPORTANT: If for any reason you find you can’t do something that is on the Commitment (for example you are late for a Job Centre interview or you have been too unwell to go to an interview, or you have to look after a sick child) you MUST tell the Job Centre immediately - and keep a record. Otherwise you could have some of your Universal Credit “sanctioned” (not paid) – and this could last for anything between a month and three years.
IMPORTANT: If you are told your benefit is to be sanctioned - and you think this is wrong or unjust – you can ask the Job Centre to reconsider their decision - and if they refuse, you can appeal. Contact us for advice.
It can be difficult to find out all the information we need from Universal Credit. Why can’t First Choice Homes Oldham speak to Universal Credit or the Department of Work and Pensions on my behalf?
The Universal Credit service doesn’t tell First Choice Homes Oldham what the issues are with their payments. This is due to keeping personal information confidential. If you come to First Choice Homes Oldham, you can give UC authority to speak to us but you have to be present at all times.
First Choice Homes Oldham is only contacted by the Universal Credit service when someone starts claiming Universal Credit. First Choice Homes is contacted to verify identity, if it is a single/joint claim, address, rent amount, number of rooms and service charges.
My Housing Benefit is currently paid directly to my landlord and I am happy with this arrangement – can I ask the DWP to pay my rent out of my Universal Credit?
Your claim for Universal Credit will include help with your rent – called a housing costs element. The whole of your Universal Credit award will be paid to you. And it will be your responsibility to budget and pay your rent from your Universal Credit and any other income you may have.
There is a system, however, called ‘managed payments’ (or ‘APAs’) where the housing costs element included in your Universal Credit assessment can be paid directly to your landlord in limited circumstances.
You can ask the Job Centre to set you up on ‘managed payments’ if you believe you would struggle to pay the rent yourself because of your circumstances. You will need to explain what problems you have that makes it difficult for you to cope with paying the rent yourself. If you would like the DWP to consider this, you can ask your Job Centre “work coach” at your first appointment after your claim for Universal Credit, or at any time after this.
You can ring 0345 6000723 to make an appointment at the Job Centre or you can make the request via your online account.
Note that you do not have a right to a ‘managed payment’ – it is up to the DWP to decide if you need this help, and it will usually only be for a fixed period of time.
But remember this won’t necessarily cover all your rent so make sure you continue to pay any difference for example due to the Bedroom Tax, or a deduction taken off for a non-dependent living with you, etc.
‘Managed payments’ can also be requested by your landlord where your rent account goes into arrears and you owe at least two months’ rent.
Can First Choice Homes apply for an APA on my behalf so First Choice Homes Oldham can receive their rent payments directly?
An APA is where the Income Collection team apply to the DWP to receive the housing costs part of their Universal Credit payment directly, rather than it being paid to the customer.
First Choice Homes can only apply for this when someone has been in arrears for eight weeks.
The Income Collection team can’t apply for an APA if someone has been sanctioned, or not done something they should have on their claim.
What happens to my Child Benefit when I move onto Universal Credit?
The only benefits Universal Credit is replacing are Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit, and Working Tax Credit.
Any other benefits you may be entitled to will continue to be paid to you in addition to any Universal Credit payment. This includes Child Benefit and also: Bereavement Allowance, Carers Allowance, Contributory Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Maternity Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and so on. (And remember to claim Council Tax Support from your local council as it isn’t included in the Universal Credit claim.)
What do I do if I’m struggling with money and I need an advance payment of Universal Credit?
Universal Credit does offer up to a months advance payment, with repayments spread over 12 months. However, you will need to ask the Job centre or the Universal Credit service if you need this.
I’ve heard it’s possible to get Universal Credit paid fortnightly rather than monthly. Is this true?
It is possible to arrange for the personal part of Universal Credit to be paid fortnightly – Jobseekers Allowance, tax credits, Employment Support Allowance. However the housing costs part won’t be paid fortnightly. You will need to speak to the Universal Credit service about this.
I’m often not sure how much money I will have coming in because I’ve found out organisations like the council or energy companies have taken out money from my bank account. How is this possible?
Universal Credit allow some companies to take out money which you owe to them directly from your Universal Credit, the maximum they can deduct is 40 per cent of your total personal element.
If this is causing you problems with your rent, you need to speak to your Income Collection Officer or the Tenancy Support service so they can help and advise you. Call our Universal Credit hotline today on 0800 1955 440.
I’m confused about what benefits I’m entitled to and I don’t know how to apply for them. How do I find out more information?
First Choice Homes Oldham has a tenancy support service that can help with your questions about what benefits you are entitled to, dealing with your bills, budgeting, help with filling in forms and so on.
For example, if you need to find out about Personal Independence Payments, which replaced Disability Living Allowance and isn’t covered by Universal Credit, you can get advice about this. Ring our Universal Credit hotline on 0800 1955 440 to talk to one of our team.
We would like help and advice on different services but we can’t afford to travel into Oldham town centre. Can you help with this?
Yes, there are lots of training, employment, volunteering and advice sessions available throughout Oldham we can discuss with you if you contact us.
You can also contact our Universal Credit hotline today on 0800 1955 440.