The Department for Work and Pensions is changing the way benefits are calculated and paid to residents in St Edmundsbury.
From next Wednesday, October 18 – anyone submitting a new or revised claim for either Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Working Tax Credits, may instead receive Universal Credit.
One of the major changes that this brings is that residents will be responsible for deducting and paying their rent, rather than it automatically being paid to landlords. Instead of getting several payments on different dates, people claiming Universal Credit will receive a single monthly payment. There are no limits on how many hours you can work when receiving Universal Credit while the amount people receive will reduce gradually as their earnings increase.
Councillor Sara Mildmay-White, St Edmundsbury Borough Council Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “The DWP is introducing these changes across St Edmundsbury from October 18. We know that these changes are likely to cause anxiety for some, as there is more of a responsibility on people to manage their own money and not fall behind with their rent. We have been working with the local Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the Jobcentres in preparation for this, to ensure that we can do our best to try to help our residents adapt to these changes.”
Funding has been provided to the CAB to increase the number of staff that it has available to provide personal budgeting support. The staff will be based at the Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill Jobcentres with the Haverhill Jobcentre moving to Haverhill House from January. The Jobcentre staff will also provide support to claimants on any employment related issues.
Universal Credit is entirely an online scheme. Recognising that some residents may not have access to their own computer or feel confident using them on their own, St Edmundsbury is also improving the public access computers it has in its receptions, so that people can use them to claim online.
People on low incomes can still apply for help towards their Council Tax. This is administered by Anglia Revenues Partnership.
More details including how to apply can be found at www.angliarevenues.gov.uk/counciltaxreduction
To try to help residents understand more about the changes, whether they are eligible for Universal Credit and if so how much they are likely to receive, St Edmundsbury Borough Council has set up a web page with useful information at http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/universalcredit
Information about how the council can support landlords can be found at: https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/privatehousing