Welfare benefits news

The latest welfare rights service news.

Universal Credit 'full service' comes to Chesterfield at the end of November 2017

The Government has announced that it will continue to 'roll out' the full service of Universal Credit (UC). This rollout will affect claimants in the Chesterfield area from 29 November 2017.

UC has so far only applied to single unemployed people making a new claim in Chesterfield, but the full service; covers all new claims and types of claimant.

However, not everyone will be affected by UC:

  • UC replaces six benefits − Income Support/Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance/Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance/Working Tax Credit/Child Tax Credit/Housing Benefit (referred to as 'legacy benefits')− it does not replace any other benefits.

  • It is still possible to claim Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance that you have earned through your National Insurance record

  • You will have to claim UC if you are making a brand new claim for what would have been a legacy benefit

  • If you have an existing claim for legacy benefits, you will only have to claim UC if your circumstances change to the extent that you would have had to make a new benefit claim under the old system.

If you do have to claim UC, it will take over all of your 'legacy' benefits − e.g. if you are unemployed and you rent your home, you will have to claim UC instead of Jobseeker's Allowance, and UC will also take over from Housing Benefit (but NOT Council Tax Support − claim this separately)

Things to know about UC:

  • UC is a single monthly payment for you/your family
  • You may have to wait up to six weeks for your first payment − you can request 'advance payments' of UC while you are waiting, but these are repayable.
  • You will have to claim UC online, and your claim will be maintained online too. If you do not have access to a computer or you don't have computer skills, seek advice.

Find out more about Universal Credit.

email: welfarebenefits@derbyshire.gov.uk
tel: 01629 531535

Introduction of the Universal Credit full service in 2017-18

At the moment, Universal Credit claims in Derbyshire are usually made online but the rest of the process is not online.

Universal Credit is intended to be a wholly online process, and the DWP is developing its 'digital service' or 'full service'. Under this service, all new claims which would have been for 'legacy benefits' will be for Universal Credit instead, and they will be claimed and managed online.

Universal Credit full service completion dates

The government has now announced that the 'Full Service' for Universal Credit will be put in to place in Derbyshire between 2017 and 2018:

  • May 2017 - Ilkeston Jobcentre Plus and Long Eaton Jobcentre Plus
  • November 2017 - Chesterfield Jobcentre Plus
  • March 2018 - Alfreton Jobcentre Plus, Belper Jobcentre Plus, Heanor Jobcentre Plus
  • April 2018 − Clay Cross Jobcentre Plus Staveley Jobcentre Plus
  • May 2018 - Matlock Jobcentre Plus, Glossop Jobcentre Plus
  • August 2018 − Bolsover Jobcentre Plus, Shirebrook Jobcentre Plus, Swadlincote Jobcentre Plus.

This means that after these dates, any new or updated claims that would have been new claims for 'legacy benefits' will be taken as claims for Universal Credit.

This does not necessarily mean that all claims will be affected or that individual claims will be affected right away. If you are in doubt about what will happen to your claim after the introduction of the full service, contact our Helpline on tel: 01629 531535.

Universal Credit in Derbyshire − the latest on the 'roll-out'

Find the latest about Universal Credit in Derbyshire.

The leaflet 'Universal Credit − what's happening now and in the future' is attached to this page.

If you're working and claiming Universal Credit

Changes in the rules for Universal Credit from April 2016 mean that the 'work allowance' (money you can keep before it affects your benefit) will be removed from claimants who don't have care of a child or young person, or who do not have 'limited capability for work'.

This means that if you're working, your Universal Credit may go down, as your earnings will affect your Universal Credit.

For more information and advice, contact our Helpline on tel: 01629 531535 or email: welfarebenefits@derbyshire.gov.uk.

Changes in help with Mortgage Interest in the benefit system

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) currently offers Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) or Help with Housing Costs (this is not to be confused with Housing benefit or help with rental costs in Universal Credit).

SMI pays towards the interest on a mortgage and other eligible home improvement loans. It is paid direct to the mortgage lender and is only available with claims for these benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Credit

What is happening from 6/4/18?

From 6 April 2018 this support will become a repayable loan - it will be an interest-bearing loan, secured by a second charge on the home, and it will be repayable if the property is sold or its ownership transferred.

The way that SMI is worked out and what mortgages/secured loans are eligible remains the same as under the previous scheme.

This change applies to all claims including benefits paid to pensioners. The current SMI scheme ends completely on 5 April 2018.

People receiving the current SMI will be contacted by a company called SERCO, who are managing the scheme for the government.

SERCO should write to and make a telephone call to everyone affected by the change, and should provide an information booklet explaining the scheme. Only factual information will be provided and no advice will be given by them.

What happens when I get a phone call?

You will be rung by SERCO between five and 15 working days after you have received the information booklet. This is to give you time to read the details and think about any questions you may have.

If you have a partner, both you and your partner must receive the phone call in order to be offered the SMI loan. This is to ensure that you both understand the terms of the SMI loan.

You can book a specific time for the call if this helps you. You can also have someone with you during the call - for example, a relative or carer.

If you wish to accept the SMI loan, you can do so during the phone call or you can contact DWP afterwards.

You will then be sent loan documents for you (and your partner if you have one) to sign and return. DWP will confirm receipt of these documents in writing. You will also get a letter confirming when SMI loan payments will start.

In most circumstances, the SMI loan payments will go straight to your mortgage lender

You will receive an annual statement of your SMI loan and interest.

What will happen to my benefit payments?

Your benefit payments will carry on, but you will need to decide whether to accept a loan.

You do not have to accept a loan, but if you do not accept one, your SMI payments will stop.

If you wish to accept a loan you will need to complete and return loan documents.

If you do not wish to accept a loan payment, ask for a benefit check from Welfare Rights to make sure that there is no effect upon any of your other entitlements. In a very few cases, where only a small amount of benefit is payable in the first place, people may lose entitlement to full help with health costs if they no longer get SMI.

How much will it cost to set up an SMI loan?

There will be no administration fees to get SMI loan payments.

However, if you seek your own legal or financial advice, or help and support to understand and complete the loan documents, you will have to meet your own costs.

DWP/SERCO will provide information about organisations that can offer free help and support.

I have a mortgage protection policy − will it affect how much I receive?

Yes − SMI payments are reduced by the amount of mortgage protection payments you get.

What if there is little or no equity left in my home when I sell it?

SMI payments will be made no matter how much or little equity there is in your property, and your property will not be valued for this scheme.

You must pay as much of the loan (plus interest) back as possible from the proceeds of sale, after your primary mortgage and any other charges have been paid off − but any amount of loan still owing will be written off if there is insufficient equity in the property.

Can I pay the loan back early?

Yes, but this is entirely voluntary. There will be no early repayment fees.

Can I opt out of loan payments at any time?

Yes, but you will have to repay any outstanding loan amount, plus interest, from available equity in your property when it is sold or ownership is transferred.

If you want to stop your SMI loan payments you will need to make sure you can pay the interest on the mortgage yourself.

Can I accept the offer of an SMI loan at a later date?

Yes. You can accept the offer of an SMI loan at any time, as long as you still receive one of the relevant benefits.

What happens if I have an appointee or someone holds power of attorney?

The person who is your appointee or who holds Power of Attorney will be contacted rather than you being contacted direct.

When am I likely to be contacted?

You are likely to be contacted early July 2017 onwards - if you are on Pension Credit.

If you receive Employment and Support Allowance, you may be contacted from October 2017 onwards.

If you receive Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance, you may be contacted from January/February 2018.

If you have any questions, don't delay, seek free advice call Derbyshire Welfare Rights on tel: 01629 531535 or email: welfarebenefits@derbyshire.gov.uk

Related documents

The following documents are in Portable Document Format (PDF). You can download software to view PDF documents for free from the Adobe website (opens in a new window)