At CABA we frequently speak with ICAEW members and their families from a range of different backgrounds who are in need of support with the UK benefits system.  

Some of the common concerns  we hear from people is that they're unsure whether they're actually eligible for benefits, or they're unsure how to navigate the system and claim the benefits they're entitled to. 

If this situation sounds familiar to you, myself and the rest of the CABA Support Team can offer information and support to help you gain a clear understanding of the UK benefits system.

To help get you started, we're going to clarify some details about 1 of the most versatile UK benefits that is available to working age people, Universal Credit (UC). However, as the details of UC can vary greatly depending on your individual circumstances, we're going to focus on the basics. 

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit that was introduced in the UK in April 2013 to support working age people, so those under State Pension age. It replaces 6 existing means-tested benefits known as legacy benefits. These are:

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • How can I apply for Universal Credit?

How can I apply for Universal Credit?

Whether you can claim Universal Credit currently depends on where you live. This is because UC is gradually being rolled out to Job Centres across the UK in stages.

Initially it focused on new claimants in the simplest of circumstances, namely single unemployed claimants; but over the last 4 years the number of areas where you can claim Universal Credit has increased along with the types of claimants circumstances.

The Government expects all new claimants, regardless of circumstances, to be claiming Universal Credit by September 2018.  From mid-2019 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will then begin to move all claimants from the legacy benefits to Universal Credit, with expected completion in 2022.

If you're entitled to claim, Universal Credit needs to be applied for and managed online using the Apply for Universal Credit website. For more information on the claiming Universal Credit, visit the your claim journey website.

Other information about Universal Credit

  • Universal Credit uses a live system which means your benefit can be adjusted from month to month depending on how much you earn
  • Rather than receiving payments from several benefits on a fortnightly or 4 weekly basis, you will receive just 1 monthly payment that takes into consideration whether you're looking for work, too unwell to work, have children, are on a low wage or require assistance with your housing costs, whether that is through rental costs or a mortgage
  • UC is paid 1 month in arrears so it can take up to 6 weeks after you make a claim for you to receive your first payment
  • If you live with someone as a couple, you will get 1 joint payment
  • There is no limit on how many hours you work but instead your UC entitlement will decrease the more income you earn
  • After the 6 April 2017 no additional amounts will be paid for third and subsequent children born after this date

How CABA can help

For those who're unsure about what benefits are available and whether you're entitled to them, we have an online benefits calculator that can assist you with this process. We also have an online grants search tool that can identify additional charitable funds that you're eligible for.

If you're a past or present ICAEW member, ACA student, or a member of their families and are in need of benefits advice, you can also speak to a member of CABA's Support Team. We're happy to offer advice and can discuss the options available to you. We can also help you apply. Contact us on +44 (0) 1788 556 366, email or chat to an advisor online 24 hours a day.

Written by: Melanie Smith
CABA Support Officer

Melanie Smith is one of CABA’s health and care support officers. She works with a varied group of clients, from those who are unemployed due to health concerns through to those over pension age. Melanie ensures that clients are claiming any benefits they are entitled to and provides signposting to organisations and services that can provide additional services.

Melanie Smith

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