I am worried that I will be laid off and I'm not claiming any benefits at the moment – can I claim Universal Credit?
As long as you satisfy the basic claiming criteria for Universal Credit you will be able to make a claim. You have to: be working age, have savings/capital under £16,000, be in GB, not be excluded from UC (some students are excluded depending on age, level of course etc), not be claiming Tax Free Childcare, and agree to a claimant commitment. Whether you will have an award paid/how much will depend on your individual circumstances. You could use an online calculator to give an estimate of how much you may be entitled to.
If you are laid off, then the timing of your UC claim may be important (see below) and you should also make a new claim for Council Tax Support.
I’ve just been laid off and I’m due some holiday pay - when can I claim Universal Credit?
You can claim immediately, but depending how much holiday pay you are due, and when, you may be better off delaying your claim until you receive it. If you are due a significant amount of holiday pay in the next few days / couple of weeks, then it is more likely that it would be better to delay the claim until after you receive this payment. This is because this payment from your employer will reduce your UC award.
If you are entitled to a work allowance and the amount of holiday pay (and any wages you are still due) is less than this allowance, then you should claim immediately. This is because the payment from your employer will be totally disregarded and so not affect your UC award.
If you are not sure what you are best doing, contact a Benefits Adviser.
I've been laid off and I'm due some redundancy pay - can I claim Universal Credit?
Statutory and contractual redundancy payments, whether paid as a lump sum or over a given period, count as savings for UC purposes and not as earnings. So if a redundancy payment takes your total savings over £16,000, you would not be entitled to UC. If your savings (including your redundancy pay) are less than £6000 your savings will not affect the amount of UC you could get. Savings between £6,000 and £16,000 are deemed to generate an income. This is set at £4.35 a month for each £250 (or part of) you have above £6,000. So, for example if you have £9,450 in savings the DWP will include £60.90 as assumed income from these savings when they work out your UC entitlement (£9,450 - £6,000 = £3,450, £3,450 / £250 = 13.8 - so 14 x £4.35 = £60.90). You could use an online calculator to give an estimate of how much you may be entitled to.
Note that sometimes redundancy payments are incorrectly treated as earnings for UC - so watch out for this,
I’ve just been laid off, and I’ve made a claim for Universal Credit. But my outgoings are going to be much higher than my income – what can I do?
Make sure you claim Council Tax Support to help you with your Council Tax Bill. If you pay rent and so have a Housing Costs Element included in your Universal Credit award you can also try for a Discretionary Housing Payment from your Local Authority.
Think about what bills / expenses you can cut down – there’s lots of useful information online. Speak to a Money Adviser who can help you renegotiate debt repayments and draw up a realistic budget.
Contact your Local Authority and ask if they can provide any help through their Local Welfare Assistance fund – note not all Local Authorities have these.
You could also contact your local Food Bank to see what help they can provide.