6 top tips to make sure you get your Universal Credit claim right in 2020

WITH the New Year about to begin there is no better time to make sure your Universal Credit claim is right so that you are fully supported throughout 2020.

Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 3:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 3:22 pm

There are more than 2.7 million people receiving the benefit in the UK and as well as your standard monthly allowance there are a number of additional entitlements you may be eligible for help with childcare costs to half price travel on rail and bus services.

Here are six of the best Universal Credit entitlements that you may not know about:

- Up to 85 per cent of childcare costs can be reimbursed through Universal Credit. Costs can be reported online, and those in work while in receipt to Universal Credit can apply for up to £646.35 per month if you have one child and up to £1,108.40 for two or more children. For more information visit the Understanding Universal Credit website.

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Tips for getting your universal credit claim right. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

- You can get up to 50 per cent off train and bus travel if you are eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card which is great for getting you to interviews and appointments as well as being valid for all other journeys you make. Speak to your work coach to find out more. Those receiving Jobseekers Allowance may also be eligible.

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- Not having ‘work clothes’ doesn’t have to stop you accepting a job as a Flexible Support Fund is available to help you cover the costs of starting work. This money does not have to be paid back, and can cover the costs of things like clothing and uniforms to start work, and travel to interviews. Again, speak to your work coach to find out more.

- If you are having a child you may be entitled to a one of payment. Known as the Sure Start Maternity Grant, households on Universal Credit can benefit from a one-off payment of £500. This does not have to be paid back and will not affect the benefit payment you receive.

- You could save on your Council Tax bill and in some case you may not need to pay anything at all. Depending on your circumstances and where you live you may be eligible for a Council Tax Reduction. Apply for one on gov.uk.

- You can get help to start saving. The government’s Help to Save scheme offers people who receive Universal Credit, and some people entitled to Working Tax Credit, incentives to save anything from £1 up to £50 per month. After two years of saving, the government will give you an extra 50p for every £1 you have saved. More info on gov.uk.

Minister for welfare delivery Will Quince said: ‘We are helping people to access the support they need, and Universal Credit can help you pay essential bills, such as housing and childcare.

‘We know life can be complicated at times, but claiming benefits doesn’t have to be. If you need help, our staff are here to simplify the system and make sure you’re getting the right level of support.’

If you think you may be eligible for any of the above additional entitlements speak to your work coach at your next appointment or send a message in your journal.

It is important that you give the right information when making a claim and report life changes as soon as possible to ensure your Universal Credit continues to be paid correctly. You may even find out that you are eligible for other benefits or support.

Life changes include getting married or divorced, if someone moves in with you as your partner, starting or ending a civil partnership, having a baby, moving house, changes in your pension, savings or property, starting or stopping education, or even going into hospital.

And if you are planning on going abroad, contact the DWP to check if your benefits will be affected.

Last year, the government spent over £250 billion on welfare, including housing support, pensions, family benefits, income support and tax credits, disability and other benefits.

There is also additional support with your Universal Credit application available through the Help to Claim service. Provided by Citizens Advice, it can help with all aspects of your application, while all jobcentres across the country have Wi-Fi and computers available to access the internet.

If you are unsure about something relating to your Universal Credit claim call the DWP’s Universal Credit hotline on 0800 328 5644, or visit the Understanding Universal Credit website.