Banking and managing your money
You will need a bank account (or similar account) before being able to apply for Universal Credit. If you do not have a bank account (or similar account) then you may like to open an account with the Wolverhampton City Credit Union. Credit Union accounts are ideal for people getting Universal Credit. This is because the Credit Union can help you to budget by arranging for your bills, including the important ones like your:
- council tax
- water rates
to be paid on time direct from your account. You may also be ablwwe to access low interest loans from the Credit Union, including a ‘Crisis Loan’ should you be in financial difficulties.
Please visit Wolverhampton City Credit Union for more information.
Managing your money
Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears. Many people, even those in paid employment, are not very good when it comes to making ends meet - budgeting, particularly budgeting on a monthly basis.
If you are applying for or actually getting Universal Credit and you are finding it difficult to make ends meet then you might benefit from getting some practical tips on how best to manage when finances are tight and how you might be able to actually save some money on everyday bills and expenditure.
If you are in debt (including arrears with your rent and/or council tax) or you struggle to find money for food, gas and electric bills then some FREE ‘managing your money’ information and advice might be just what you need.
Our Places to go for support page will help you should you need further advice and assistance on managing your money when you are applying for or getting Universal Credit.
Alternative payment arrangements
If you cannot manage budgeting month to month e.g. because you are disabled or you are alcohol or drug dependent or you have a gambling addiction then you can either speak to the Universal Credit Service Centre on 0800 328 5644 or speak with your Work Coach at your local Job Centre. They can arrange for you to get paid weekly or fortnightly. If you know, because of the way Universal Credit is paid, that you are going to have real problems managing your rent payments (or you are already in significant rent arrears) then you can ask for ‘managed payments’ whereby the amount allowed in your Universal Credit payments for your rent will be paid direct to your landlord instead of being paid to you. If this amount is not for the whole amount of your rent (e.g. because you are affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ or ‘benefit cap’) then you will be responsible for making up the difference. If you are in significant rent arrears you could talk to your landlord about them apply for ‘managed payments’ directly. Please visit our Help for Landlords page for more information.
If you have no money now or you are struggling to make ends meet then you can:
Apply for a Universal Credit Short-Term Advance payment by ringing the Universal Credit Service Centre on 0800 328 5644 or talking to your Work Coach at your local Job Centre. You can apply for an advance payment worth up to 100% of your underlying entitlement of Universal Credit (including your ‘housing cost element’ - the money you are paid for your rent). To be eligible you must have made a valid claim for Universal Credit. You must also be in ‘financial need’ (i.e. you have not got enough money for your day-to-day living). You may first of all apply for an advanced payment of 50%. If you remain in ‘financial need’ after this you may apply for a further advance payment. You will be expected to repay any advance payment over a six month or 12-month repayment period. You must make sure you apply for a Short-term Advance as soon as you think you may need financial help. This is because it could take a few days for your claim to be decided and payment made into your bank or credit union account. Any claim must be made within 3 working days of the end of your 1-month assessment period (within one month of you making your claim). If you delay then you could end up being refused and having to wait up to 12 days (if there is a weekend involved) before getting a payment of Universal Credit.
Apply for a Crisis Loan from the Wolverhampton City Credit Union
. If you are living in Wolverhampton and you are in urgent financial need then the Credit Union can give you a loan providing it is considered that you would be able to repay the loan in the future.
Discretionary Housing Payments
These payments are administered by the City of Wolverhampton Council (Revenues and Benefits Team) to people living in Wolverhampton who get Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. If you get Universal Credit then your assessment of Universal Credit must include an award of the ‘housing costs element’ because you are liable (or may be treated as liable) to pay rent for the accommodation in which you live. It does not matter if you pay rent to either a social landlord or private landlord. Discretionary Housing Payments are intended to help you if you are in need of extra financial support because your full rent (excluding ineligible service charges) is not met by your Universal Credit (or Housing Benefit) payments. Discretionary Housing Payments can be extremely helpful to you if you are in rent arrears and or you find it difficult to pay your rent because you are affected by the ‘bedroom tax’ or the ‘benefit cap’.
Please visit the Discretionary Housing Payments for more information, including how application may be made.