Sorry I skived yesterday but I had some lovely young peeps to teach and went for lunch out with my mum and my closest friend for her birthday.
So I told you the other day that we were claiming Universal Credit. I know there’s a lot of controversy and confusion around them, so I thought I’d share our experience with you.
So we were claiming Tax Credits and because of a major change in circumstances (you know, the whole thing where Mr.B gave up both jobs to study Law and I started a master’s degree). They informed us that we would need to apply for Universal Credit.
Like many of you, we had heard some horror stories of no payments for 3 months and confusing paperwork, so we were a bit nervous.
Any time we need to check benefits and such, we use Entitled To so we have an idea what could change. If you’ve not heard of it before, it’s a free website where you put in all your financial details to see if you can claim anything and get an estimate of what you could get before you apply.
Based on our circumstances (although it is tricky to work out for students), it should make us slightly better off than on Tax Credits. It does seem to work best for small, nuclear families, which is OK for us, but I don’t know if larger families would have such a good outcome.
We filled in the form online. We each had to have a separate login for our joint claim. It does warn you that when you submit it, all other benefits will stop and that there are criteria to meet, but we rang the helpline to check and went ahead.
Both the guy on the phone and the info screen after submitting said we should start getting payments 5 weeks from the day we submitted the claim. That is a lot better than the horror stories of 12+ weeks some poor people have suffered.
There are tasks to do, some (like proving your identity) are a bit long-winded, but they are straightforward with the instructions given.
The income task is made much easier by having a Government Gateway login, or a year’s worth of payslips/accounts.
The biggest surprise to us was the need to see a work coach at the Jobcentre…even if you are exempt from having to look for work to claim. (That works just like it did for the old JSA benefit claims.)
So today I’m going to our local Jobcentre and submitting my self-employment accounts (they have my study details already). I felt a bit awkward as I hadn’t been in a Jobcentre since I was 18, and ours is in a particularly rough state, but it was straightforward and our caseworker is lovely. Being self-employed mine is just a little more complicated, which is why I have a second appointment today.
I’ll keep you posted, but I thought it was an interesting topic and lots of people have questions about UC, so hope it helps. If anyone has any experience or advice to share, please do in the comments so we can help each other out.
Have a great Thursday!