BRITS that have previously been turned down for Universal Credit should re-apply if they’ve spent a chunk of their savings.
MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis urged people that have dipped into their savings accounts to reapply for the benefit, as they could now be eligible.
There are rules limiting how much Universal Credit you can access if you have savings of between £6,000 and £16,000.
The amount you can claim is on a sliding scale depending on how much cash you and your partner have stashed away.
You can’t access Universal Credit at all if you have combined savings of more than £16,000.
But you can reapply as soon as your rainy day fund falls below that threshold, MoneySavingExpert revealed today.
What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit
IF you’re experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don’t cover costs, here are your options:
- Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it’s a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit payout.
- Alternative Payment Arrangements – If you’re falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you’re part of a couple.
- Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the Government for emergency household costs of up to £348 if you’re single, £464 if you’re part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You’ll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You’ll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
- Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax by applying for a Council Tax Reduction. Alternatively, you might be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments to help cover your rent.
- Foodbanks – If you’re really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.
This means that Brits who have previously been turned down could now be eligible to claim benefits.
Martin Lewis said: “It’s vital to make your fresh claim (if you’re newly eligible) or update your online journal as soon as your savings dip as the sooner you act, the sooner you’ll be paid – or see your award increase.”
How to apply
Brits who earn a low income, are out of work or cannot work are eligible to apply for Universal Credit.
If your claim has been rejected in the past, you will have to make a new application as your previous attempt won’t have been saved in the system.
The best way to apply for Universal Credit is online, but you can also call the free helpline on 0800 328 5644.
You will need several pieces of information to hand when you are making your claim.
- your bank, building society or credit union account details
- an email address
- information about your housing, for example how much rent you pay
- details of your income, for example payslips
- details of savings and any investments, like shares or a property that you rent out
- details of how much you pay for childcare if you’re applying for help with childcare costs
You will also have to verify your identity online, which will require some proof such as your driving licence, passport or debit or credit card.
After you’ve applied online you will be invited to attend an in-person interview.
MoneySavingExpert warned that the person assessing your claim could look into why and how fast your savings have dropped.
They may ask you to provide evidence that you have spent it legitimately, rather than moving it elsewhere to claim more Universal Credit.
If you were already claiming a reduced Universal Credit payment because you had some savings under the £16,000 limit, you might be able to get more cash.
Simply update your online journal with your latest savings balance to find out how much more you could be eligible for.
It’s important to update your account as soon as possible, as you won’t be able to backdate the claim.
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