Is your parish community prepared for the Universal Credit roll out?

The full roll out of Universal Credit is fast approaching. Julia Webster from Just Finance explains what the impact of this will have on many families across our Diocese and crucially, how we can help people in our parishes prepare for this major change.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work. It replaces some of the benefits and tax credits that people are receiving now. Up until now, this has only affected single people, those making new claims and those with a change in circumstance e.g. the birth of a new child.

Full-service rollout will mean that everyone in receipt of the 6 benefits involved will be moved onto Universal Credit.

Universal Credit will replace the following 6 benefits:

Income based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
Income Based Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
Housing Benefit 
Working Tax Credit
Child Tax Credit 
Income Support

How will this affect people across the Diocese of Liverpool?

Over the next 12 to 18 months Universal Credit will be fully rolled out across the Liverpool Diocesan area.  In those areas of the country where the full rollout has already happened the impact on foodbanks has been significant. With this in mind, Just Finance wants to help church and foodbank volunteers to prepare for the change.

This is a huge change for claimants not least because they will be paid monthly and in arrears, meaning initially there is about a 6-7 week period without income.  Claims can also only be made online, claimants need an email address and they need to have all the relevant information to make a claim as incomplete applications cannot be saved.  Rent is paid direct to claimants who then have the responsibility to pay their landlords themselves. Couples will only receive one monthly joint payment. Vulnerable claimants can access additional help such as having their rent paid direct to their housing supplier, receiving payments more frequently than monthly and receiving split payments; however, this is subject to certain circumstances.

How can we help?

There are certain things that people can do to try to get ready for this huge change:

• Having a bank account that is not overdrawn
• Getting access to the internet and practicing internet skills, getting an email address
• Considering whether a joint bank account is necessary
• Getting help with monthly budgeting, preparing for the delay in first payments

Just Finance will be running a series of Cash Smart Credit Savvy courses over the next few months which cover issues such as budgeting, getting ready for Universal Credit, interest rates, debt, savings and savvy spending. 

If you’d like to host one at your church or if any church volunteers are interested in attending, please contact Julia Webster, Just Finance Worker at Julia.webster@togetherliverpool.org.uk or call 07947 210811.

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Get 'Cash Smart, Credit Savvy'

Cash Smart Credit Savvy course covers issues such as budgeting, getting ready for Universal Credit, interest rates, debt, savings and savvy spending.

If you’d like to host one at your church or if any church volunteers are interested in attending, please contact Julia Webster, Just Finance Worker at Julia.webster@togetherliverpool.org.uk or call 07947 210811.

Just Finance Foundation

The Just Finance Foundation will develop and implement the Archbishop of Canterbury’s continuing vision of creating a fairer and more just financial system.

It will oversee LifeSavers and the Just Finance Network, the core programmes initiated by the Task Group on Responsible Credit and Savings..

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s interventions on payday lending and credit unions have placed the Church at the heart of the struggle for a more just financial system. The establishment of the foundation will help to embed the practical responses to his call within the broader life and mission of the Church and  act as an umbrella organisation for the Church of England’s continuing work on promoting financial inclusion.