Winchester City Council launches Universal Credit

Press Release: 13/10/2015

Universal Credit

A new single monthly benefit payment – for people in or out of work – was introduced in Winchester last month.

Universal Credit, as it is known, is designed to simplify the current welfare system by supporting people on a low income, and it will replace six existing benefits and tax credits.
Initially, Universal Credit will only affect newly unemployed, single people. The amount of Universal Credit paid will depend on individual circumstances and income. Monthly payments will be made directly into claimants’ chosen bank accounts. People receiving Universal Credit who previously received Housing Benefit will be responsible for paying rent directly to their landlord, often for the first time.

There is no limit to the number of hours people can work if they receive Universal Credit. Payments will reduce gradually as earnings increase – this means claimants on a low income won’t lose all their benefits at once. The Government’s goal in rolling out Universal Credit is that it will always be more beneficial financially to have a job than to be out of work.
Winchester City Council has appointed a Universal Credit Project Co-ordinator to work with local charities and other agencies – including Citizens Advice Bureau – to provide support for claimants who will need to fill in a single, online claim form. Improving public access to the internet and promoting this to new claimants is one of the key tasks to ensure that the new system works effectively for everyone.

Cllr Stephen Godfrey, Leader of the Council, commented:

The Council is proud of its track record in dealing with claims for Housing Benefits and Council Tax Reductions over the years, and we want to use that knowledge to ensure no one falls through the net under the new system. With a dedicated project officer to co-ordinate our efforts with those of the voluntary sector, Library Service and JobCentre Plus, we are confident that we can provide the right help at the right time in the right place for each and every Universal Credit claimant.

For more information, please contact Duncan Faires, Universal Credit Project Co-ordinator, on 01962 848 298 or email universalcredit@winchester.gov.uk