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We’ve spoken to lots of customers who are already claiming Universal Credit and the most important advice they would give to other people is that it’s absolutely vital to prepare in advance.

Claiming Universal Credit involves some fairly significant changes if you’re used to claiming benefits in the old style, including the need to have a bank account, the fact you have to apply and manage your account online, budgeting on a monthly rather than weekly basis and the increased pressure to look for and take on work.

Watch this short film to see what difference some key bits of preparation can make – it really will show you just how important it is!

  • Get a bank account and pay your rent

    Universal Credit payments are designed to be more like a typical salary payment, to help those who claim get used to the routine of a monthly wage. So they’re paid monthly, in arrears (i.e at the end of the month they relate to) directly into a bank account.

    This means you must have a bank account to be able to claim Universal Credit – if you don’t, you won’t be able to receive payments. It also means that, because the money goes to the claimant directly, you are responsible for paying your rent to YHN. So, even if you are worried about budgeting and would rather the rent money went straight to us, in most cases this won’t be possible. It is extremely important that you keep up with your rent payments so if you’re worried about how you’ll manage please do just get in touch with us – we can help you to access bank accounts, we can provide budgeting advice and we can even help you to set up a direct debit so your rent is paid automatically.

    You can find out more about the support we offer here. This short Government film explains a bit more about it.

  • Get more confidence online

    As the only way you can apply for Universal Credit is online, it’s really important that you’re familiar with the internet and how it works. You will need to manage your Universal Credit account online the way you would an online bank account, so it’s also advisable to familiarise yourself with this kind of sites if you haven’t already.

    If you’re not very confident about using computers or accessing websites, don’t worry, there are many ways we can help. You can find out more about this here.

  • Find work

    The Government is very keen that people are better off in work than out of it, so most people who claim Universal Credit will have to commit to some kind of work-related activity.

    This will vary depending on someone’s circumstances, but will be agreed up front with a “work coach” at the Job Centre as part of something called the “claimant commitment”. If you do not comply with the terms of your claimant commitment then you may be “sanctioned”, which means your payment might be reduced or even stopped completely.

    We know that it can often be difficult to find work so we are able to provide lots of advice and support with this – just click here for more information. You can also find out more about how Universal Credit works once you’re working by watching this short Government film.