Page 7 - Ability Window Summer 2017 v2_Ability newsletter
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affect Ability customers

        Universal Credit

        Universal Credit will replace all six of the benefits shown below.

        New claimants who are single        The Government keeps delaying
        already apply for Universal Credit.  when they will switch existing
                                            claimants to Universal Credit. The
        In some areas, couples and families
                                            expected date is now between July
        making a new claim also have to
                                            2019 and                                          I tried to get out of
        apply for Universal Credit.
                                            March 2022.                                       this mess, but it was
        However, most of our customers                                                        quite hard.
                                            We will let
        have been claiming benefits for a
                                            you know          Universal
        while. This means you still get                        Credit
                                            if this                             How Sean sorted
        benefits like Housing Benefit and
        Employment & Support Allowance.
                                                                                out his debts
                                                         Employ-                When your income is low and you
         Jobseekers’  Housing    Working      Child       ment       Income
         Allowance    Benefit    Tax Credit  Tax Credit  & Support   Support    aren’t great at budgeting, you can
                                                                                quickly run up debts – as Sean
                                                                                Browne found.
                                                                                “My bills got so high – I’d never seen
                                                                                bills go over £1,000 – and I tried to get
        Benefits change for under‐35s                                            out of this mess, but it was quite hard,”
                                                                                he says.

        From 1 April 2018, Housing          renting privately.                  Sean’s support worker Nikki Elvin recalls:
                                            They will use the                   “Sean had run up about £4,000 in debts,
        Benefit and the housing
                                            Local Housing                       with most of it on four mobile phones.”
        element of Universal Credit         Allowance (LHA)                     Sean admits he also let his electricity bill
        will change for most people         rate.                               get very high, by using too much energy.
        under the age of 35.                If you live alone,                  At this point, Nikki stepped in to get
                                            you will only get the ‘shared       Sean the support he needed from the
        The new rules will affect people who
                                            accommodation rate’. This is meant  Step Change charity. Step Change help
        signed their tenancy or licence
                                            to cover the cost of a room in a    by making a debt management plan.
        agreement after 1 April 2016 (or
                                            shared house. It won’t cover the cost  They contact everyone you owe money
        1 April 2017 if you live in a hostel).
                                            of a studio or one bedroom flat.    to and get them to agree to you paying
                                                                                it back in small regular amounts. Then
        What this means for you             If you live with a partner or with your
                                                                                you pay the whole amount to Step
                                            family, your award will assume you
        Some Ability customers under 35 won’t                                   Change, who pay all your bills.
                                            pay a low rent. The rent on your
        be affected. For example, if you get
                                            home may cost more than this.       Sean is pleased and relieved after sorting
        the highest or middle rate care
                                                                                out his debt problems. “My electricity
        component of DLA (Disability Living
        Allowance), or if you  get the daily  What Ability will do              bill is down to £60 and I don’t use so
                                                                                much now.
        living component of PIP (Personal   Before next year, we will check which
        Independence Payment).              customers will be affected. We will  “I just have my phones to pay now. My
                                            make sure you get the support you   money is back where it was. I don’t have
        If you are affected, from 2018, your
                                            need to cope with the change.       to keep taking all my money out for bills.”
        Housing Benefit will not be based on
        how much rent you actually pay.     If you have any worries, you can    If you need help with debts, don’t
        The council will calculate your benefit  always talk to your support worker.  despair. Your support worker really can
                                                                                help. You can find also out more about
        in the same way as for someone
                                                                                Step Change at
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