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    Read our FAQ and the legal stuff. Knowing your rights is VERY important.

Universal Credits

Information updated 3/2/2016

We take no responsibility for the accuracy of this information. Changes happen quickly and often quietly so please clarify the below information with the www.gov.uk website.

Please also note the job centre staff are still learning the new rules and we are hearing quite often that they are demanding more from claimants than is allowed.  Be polite to them when showing them the print outs from the government website and they should treat you fairly.

UC – Universal Credit

WTC – Working Tax Credit

CTC – Child Tax Credit

IS – Income Support

JSA – Jobseekers Allowance

JC – Job Centre

So…. Whats been happening?  We and most of the country aren’t sure.  Here we try to use the governments own information to make it clearer.

Home educators were and are tied to the same rules as a schooled family, you will be expected to work (see tables below). However the jobcentre are not allowed to tell you to use school as a child care option. We suggest not mentioning home education to the JC as we hear all too often people have their claims cancelled, or extra demands placed on them.  You can look for evening work or daytime work etc, what ever suits you the best. There are home ed friendly child minders out there too.

We have not mentioned Child Benefit  in the below comparisons as this is not affected by the changes. Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit come under the wing of UC however we have not included these to try and keep this simple.

BEFORE Universal Credits (UC).

This information applies to areas where UC is not in place.

Couples with children, where one or both parents are working, WTC and CTC The childcare element would be paid if both parents worked.
Couples with children, both out of work JSA and CTC
Single parents of a child under 5 IS and CTCThe parent is not expected to be looking for work, but are asked to prepare for work, via training or education.
Single parents of a child over 5 JSA and CTCThe parent should be actively looking for work for 16 hours a week.Looking for work can not be restricted to school hours, if you home educate you could declare that evening work suits you better. YOU DO NOT have to declare that you home educate.
Single parents working more than 16 hours a week WTC and CTC plus the childcare element.
Single parent carers IS and CTCThe parent is not expected to be looking for work.
Self employed single parents of under 5’s IS and CTCYou are expected to declare your earnings, the first £20 is disregarded, any income beyond that is deducted from the IS until there is less than £10 and the claim is cancelled.  You will be expected to provide 6 monthly accounts in the form of your receipts and invoices or a spreadsheet of accounts. You should also register with HMRC and complete a tax return.
Self employed single parents with over 5’s WTC and CTC for 16 hours or more work a week, but were not expected to be earning a set amount, you could be making a loss and still claim.We are hearing that many self employed single parents are now being asked to provide their accounts.



According to www.gingerbread.org.uk the following dates are applicable to the roll out of UC

From November 2014 to May 2016 Some families with children in selected areas have been able to claim universal credit – only small numbers of single parents are included.
May 2016-2017 Universal Credit will be rolled out gradually across the UK from May 2016. This will only be for new benefit and tax credit claims. When this happens will depend on where you live. You can check here to see if universal credit has reached your area yet.
2018-2021 People receiving existing benefits and tax credits will be moved to universal credit. This will either happen when there is a significant change to your circumstances, or when the department for work and pensions (DWP) decides to move you onto universal credit.


Universal Credits:

The following info is based on the lead carer (as as single parent you are automatically the lead carer. Information is taken directly from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/491027/uc-and-your-family-jan16.pdf

If your child has exceptional care needs this may affect what’s expected of you.

If your youngest child is: What’s expected of the lead carer:
Under one You are not required to look for work in order to receive Universal Credit. If you choose to work, Universal Credit will support you by helping to cover your childcare costs.
Age one or two If you aren’t already working, you will be asked to attend interviews to discuss plans for a future move into work. If you do choose to work, or are working already, Universal Credit will help to cover your childcare costs.
Age three or four You will be expected to take active steps to prepare for work. What this involves will be agreed between you and your work coach and will depend on your circumstances, but might include some training and work-focused interviews. If you do choose to work, or are working already, Universal Credit will help cover your childcare costs.
Age five to twelve You will be expected to look for work in line with your caring responsibilities, for example during your child’s school hours. You should let us know as soon as you accept a job offer, as you can claim support for your childcare costs for at least a month before starting work.
Age thirteen and above You will normally be expected to look for full time work. You should let us know as soon as you accept a job offer, as you can claim support for your childcare costs for at least a month before starting work


Being self employed and Universal Credits. 

Information taken from: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/450922/uc-and-self-employment-august15.pdf

  • Normally you cannot make a new claim for Universal Credit if you’re self-employed.
  • Universal Credit includes a ‘Minimum Income Floor’ (MIF)  if you are gainfully selfemployed, and your business has been running for more than 12 months.
  • It’s calculated using the National Minimum Wage for your age group, multiplied by the number of hours you are expected to look for and be available for work (see above table).
  • If your self-employed earnings are below the MIF we have calculated for you, we will use the MIF to work out your Universal Credit award instead of your actual earnings
  • Your work coach at Jobcentre Plus will ask you about your business and earnings, and you’ll have to provide evidence to support this – things like tax returns, your Unique Tax Reference number from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), your business plan, customer lists, or marketing materials, are all acceptable.
  • If we decide you are gainfully self-employed, you are exempt from all work-related requirements, meaning you can focus totally on your business.
  • If we decide you aren’t gainfully self-employed we will expect you to commit to looking for a job. You will still need to report any earnings from your self-employment so they can be taken into account when calculating your award of Universal Credit.
  • If we decide you are gainfully self-employed, and within one year of starting selfemployment and you are taking active steps to increase your earnings, you will be eligible for a ‘start up period.’ This means the Minimum Income Floor will not be applied to you for up to a year, and you won’t be required to look for or take up alternative employment during that time. Your actual earnings will be taken into account to work out your Universal Credit award during this time. You will be expected to take steps to build your business and increase your earnings, and we will ask you to provide evidence of this during your quarterly interviews. If you do not do this your start up period could be ended and the Minimum Income Floor applied to your claim.
  • You must report any earnings from self-employment to the Department for Work and Pensions monthly. This allows your Universal Credit to be adjusted on a monthly basis, ensuring that if your income from self-employment falls, you won’t have to wait several months for a rise in your Universal Credit.





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