Universal Credit is a new benefit from the Department for Work and Pensions to help working age people with their living and housing costs.
In March 2016, Portsmouth became a 'Live Service' area, so some single jobseekers could claim Universal Credit.
Live Service closed on 31 December 2017, which means that no one living in Portsmouth can make a new claim for Universal Credit until Portsmouth becomes a 'Full Service' area. But if you are already claiming Universal Credit you will carry on receiving it unless you cancel your claim, or your circumstances change and you are no longer entitled to receive it.
In September 2018, Portsmouth will become a Full Service area, which means that from September some people will need to apply for Universal Credit if their circumstances change or they need to make a new claim.
So if you live in Portsmouth, you can't make a claim for Universal Credit now, and if your situation doesn't change, you might not need to claim Universal Credit until next year or the year after.
There is lots more information about Universal Credit available online, including the 'Universal Credit and You' guide. There are also short videos to explain how it works. But if you need any help to understand what benefits you are entitled to, or how you will be affected if your situation changes, you should contact one of the Portsmouth advice services to help with money, debt and benefits listed on our Money Advice page.
Below you will find guidance to help you prepare for Universal Credit.
- Do you have an email address and mobile phone number?
In order to complete a claim for Universal Credit, you must provide both an email address and a mobile phone number. You must have access to at least one of them to complete your claim, because you will be sent a verification code which you will need to include in your claim.
If you don't have an email address, the Learning Place in Derby Road can help you get started, so check out their courses online, or give them a ring on 023 9262 1860.
MoneySavingExpert has lots of tips on cutting the cost of a mobile phone.
- Do you have an account that Universal Credit can be paid in to?
Before you can submit your claim for Universal Credit, you will need to provide details of your bank, building society, credit union or Post Office Card Account that your Universal Credit will be paid in to.
If your income is being swallowed up by bank charges, such as fees for an unauthorised overdraft or payments that have bounced, you may need to open a fee-free basic bank account. If you owe money to your bank and don't know how to pay it back, contact one of the debt advice services listed on this page.
- Do you have proof of your identity?
After claiming Universal Credit, you will be asked to prove your identity using the Government's online system, Verify. If you are unable to use Verify, you must provide proof of your identity to your Jobcentre Work Coach instead, who will copy it and return it to you.
If you think you will be unable to provide proof of your identity, you must discuss this with your Work Coach as soon as possible. If proof is not provided within one month, your Universal Credit claim will be cancelled.
- Do you need help to get online?
If you don't have the internet at home, there are lots of places in Portsmouth where you can get online for free.
If you have your own portable device, such as a tablet, smartphone or laptop, you can use it at one of the My City WiFi free internet hotspots.
If you don't have your own device, find out when computers are available at your local library or community centre.
If you're not confident in using computers or the internet, contact The Learning Place to find out about computer skills courses.
- Budgeting and managing your money
Universal Credit will combine six current benefits into a single monthly payment, so you might need to budget your money differently. Find more information about budgeting on our Money Advice page.
- Will I be better off on Universal Credit?
You can use an online benefits calculator to check your benefit entitlement. If you want to find out how your entitlement will change when you move to Universal Credit, use the Policy in Practice benefit calculator, which lets you compare your entitlement under the current benefits with your entitlement under Universal Credit.
If you need more help to understand your entitlement or how you will be affected by Universal Credit, contact one of the Portsmouth advice services to help with money, debt and benefits listed on our Money Advice page.