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Universal Credit rollout

As part of the government's inquiry on Universal Credit rollout, the Work and Pensions Committee would like to hear about your experience of claiming Universal Credit in our web forum.

Get involved
The web forum closes on Friday 13 October 2017.

ImageVaultHandler.aspx.jpgHave you applied for Universal Credit? The government would like to hear from you.

The government would like to find out what worked well during the claiming process, what did not work, and what improvements you think could be made. You might want to tell us about:

Which Jobcentre or geographic area did you apply for Universal Credit in?

How you found the process of setting up an application (eg. making an initial appointment with Jobcentre Plus, applying online)?

Whether you received your first payment when you expected to and whether you were paid the right amount?

Any support you received in managing until the first payment: for example, did you request or receive an Advance Payment?

How UC has affected your ability to manage your money, including budgeting for rent, food and bills.

Comments will be used to inform the Committee's thinking on this issue. This discussion is post-moderated and comments that breach the online discussion rules will be removed and the users banned.

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

It's a National Disgrace SORT IT OUT!

I have had nothing but problems with UC since finishing work due to my father being very ill and has recently passed away (inbetween the worst times of my life I have had the additional stress of trying to sort out a new claim!). As of today I am still waiting to be contacted with my THIRD initial appointment! I will try to keep this as short as possible but I can't promise! On 2nd Sept I went online and applied for UC after waiting over 4 days for a call for my first appointment I called the helpline (or not so helpful line depending on who you get!) at a cost to myself! They told me the reason I hadn't received a call was because I still have a claim open from February so I just needed to start this again, I was given an appointment for 15th at my not so local job centre (my local one is now closed). I attended this meeting and discussed my situation (my dad had been given days to live) with my new job coach she told me that she would turn off the settings online where I didn't need to do my usual hours of job search and she also planned for me not visit her until the first week in October. Then the following day I received a letter saying my UC account was closed, then the day after that (the day my dad passed away) I received another letter saying I owed the DWP £79 from an advance I was given in February (which I tried to pay back when in work and they couldn't take a payment?). So I called the helpline once again (with additional call charges) i was then told (after a very frustrating convo with an operator who would rather argue with me than help me out!) my account was closed because it had gone over the 5 months of me working..... Then after 3 other calls made by muself! I was given 3 different types of advice! Then. Was told to just stick to my original appointment in October and my account will be re-built! So I went to my 2nd appointment explained to my coach the difficulties I have had she was very understanding and advised me to call them in a couple of days to see if my account had been rebuilt? So I did, then I got given different advice telling me that I should have been advised to close my original claim and start a new one and request for it to be backdated..... So I have applied online again 3 days ago and still waiting for a call to make my 'first' evidence appointment and will also need to attend a second appointment before I can request for an advance and be able to set up a payment plan for the money I already owe so therefore I will probably be entitled to about 200 a month!!!! THIS SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE SCRAPPED BECAUSE IT DISNT WORK FOR MOST PEOPLE AND IT IS CAUSING ALOT OF STRESS TO PEOPLE WHEN THEY ARE ALREADY AT THEIR LOWEST!!!! Also what us the reason for charging people to call? Why us it not a free number? Who gets this money made from these incoming calls? What is it used for and how much income has this generated in total?

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Very very worried

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Total disater

This benefit need be stopped itt totally wrong stop it please going cause big problems

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UC difficulties from start to present day

I have been on Universal Credit for about two years now, it is a joint claim with my partner. Since the beginning it has been the cause of much stress and financial difficulty for us. I will try and explain these problems chronologically and concisely. The first, and I imagine most common problem, is finding yourself in rent arrears because of the long wait for any money. We had over £600 of arrears for this reason, paying even this relatively small amount is very difficult when one is struggling to live and make ends meet. Not to mention the stress of being in debt and receiving letters from the council. I will also point out here that after putting us in debt, UC (universal credit), were then deducting £100 a month from our money to pay off the debt that was caused by UC in the first place. Slightly ironic perhaps? So that was the first problem; right from the off we were on the back foot, in debt, struggling to catch up. I think it is important to now explain a little about our personal circumstances at this time as when discussing UC it is important to remember that it is real peoples lives that are effected. Let me set the scene then. My partner and I had just moved into a new flat and we’d just found out I was pregnant, hurrah! My partner was looking for work (we live in a very small town and jobs are not exactly abundant) and I had just started a job waitressing in a pub. With my first month’s wage I received a tax rebate (to the tune of approx. £300), what a stroke of luck I thought, just when we’re setting up our new home and getting ready for our new arrival. Little did we know that it is not considered a stroke of luck, but actually considered income and deducted from one’s UC. Unfortunately for us it was paid at the beginning of our assessment period meaning it was some weeks until our UC pay day and was well and truly spent. It is worth noting here that we do not have an online journal, so every UC payment is a complete surprise to us. Imagine my shock and horror when I checked my bank account and saw that we had been paid £0 because of the £300 tax rebate I had received 3 or 4 weeks previously. With no notice or prior warning we were paid nothing, of course if I had known I wouldn’t of spent my rebate on baby things. I was distraught, hysterical even (not good for my baby) how could we survive the month on fresh air? Thankfully there was the Scottish Welfare fund to give us some money for the electricity meter and to go shopping for food. And thankfully we had some family to lend us small amounts of money to get us through. However the result was more debt and more stress. Despite the extra debt and stress caused by UC, we somehow managed to survive my pregnancy, with no maternity pay or maternity allowance. My partner got a job a month before I was due to give birth, hooray! We heaved a sigh of relief, no more UC. No more financial uncertainty, no more feeling helpless and victim to the system. Independence at last! Now to start digging ourselves out of the hole that UC had put us in. Sadly it was not to be. Due to my partner being paid a pittance (minimum wage) we could not escape UC and still had to rely on my partner’s wages being topped up. My partner gets paid the same, week in, week out and so according to UC the amount of money we receive from UC should be the same, month to month. But wait! A recent payment we received was £250, only logical to expect the same amount the next month. No such luck, £79 was the next months payment. I phoned to check if this was correct and apparently it was as some assessment periods are four weeks and some are five. Alas my tale of UC woe does not end there. As my partner is in work we decide that we’d like to come off UC due to all of our negative experiences, and apply for working tax credits instead. I phone up UC and ask to end my claim. The advisor tells me that I cannot end my claim and that because we still had rent arrears and outstanding social fund payments (my partners from 2011/12 seriously, could these not have been deducted from when he was on jobseekers? Why wait so many years and take it from a joint claim?) that we could not come off UC until these were paid. I was advised to phone the relevant departments and organise payment so we could then end our claim. At least twelve infuriating phone calls later I realise that this advice is bogus. I put in a complaint to UC and the manager that calls me back confirms that the advice I was given was completely inaccurate. I almost don’t want to go on as I am boring myself but let me explain my current gripe (understatement) with UC. Between UC and my partner paying extra we managed to pay off the aforementioned rent arrears, yippee! We actually paid so much we were a month in credit with the council. My partner was paying the rent by direct debit and so I thought I would phone UC and request that our housing element be paid into my account, rather than to the council. Somehow this request was misunderstood by the UC advisor I spoke to and they suspended our housing element all together. Despite not getting all the money we were entitled to, we continued to pay the rent. This was from June this year. I’ve been phoning UC and trying to follow their advice on getting this situation resolved. All I needed was the council to give UC permission to pay me the housing element, rather than them. Unfortunately for me my housing officer is completely incompetent. Since June I have been phoning UC and going into the council to try sort this issue out. After three months someone at UC, in their infinite wisdom, decided to pay my back dated housing element (which UC had assured me I would get backdated) to the council. Let me repeat this point for emphasis. The back dated housing element that was owed to my partner and myself got paid to the council instead. I was distraught. All those months of phone calls, meetings with the council etc had resulted in the worst outcome, for us at least. I complained to UC and got a phone call from them apologising for suspending my housing element and then paying the back dated money to the council. I was told that they had spoken to the council got the permission that was needed so all future housing element would be paid to me. I was also told that I would be able to claim that money back from the and council. Result! My current situation is this. I did apply for that money back, £991.94. I’ve been waiting for a cheque from the council to arrive this week. Yet low and behold, what’s this? The council are refusing to give it back. So thanks to UC’s incompetence we are almost a thousand pounds out of pocket. So let us summarise the faults and failures of Universal credit in my experience: Rent arrears and debt caused by the long wait for any money. Lack of consistency and no notice of payment amounts. Money that is owed in over paid tax actually leaves you worse off as it is counted as income. Numerous phone calls having to be made by the claimant and at their expense. Incorrect and inconsistent advice being given. Very costly mistakes being made, resulting in large sums of money being lost. At the moment every morning when I wake up I cry because of UC, I can’t see a way out of it. Even when my partner got a job it did not release us from the stress and problems caused by being on UC. It is almost impossible to budget and keep up with rent and bills as you never know how much money you will receive. I know that our experience is not even that bad compared to some peoples. UC is destroying lives rather than helping people. I worked since I was fifteen. I have paid into the system, why when I needed some temporary help am I treated and degraded like this? Countless struggling families, a lot of who are working, are being pushed under financially by UC and pushed to the brink emotionally and psychologically. It is a blight on the UK, a disgrace and a scandal. Something must be done!

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scrap universal credit

I was living in the london borough of newham when universal credit was introduced firstly, it was a big shock as the new system is totally different 35 hours a week job search, alot more than the 10 jobs every 2 weeks on job seekers weekly appointments, with extra appointments given between them 6 week wait for benefits.... my landlord made me homless about a week after it was introduced I had no place to go, no sleeping bag and it was raining, the police refused to help I had to ask my parents for help who are struggling to pay bedroom tax themselves and have no spare money also my parents were the original reason i was homless / needed housing benefit due to abuse in that household unfortunately, the lifeline i depended on was taken away by the government without fully testing the new system then, i worried for weeks after about what to do as the new system was so difficult and felt it had ruined my life the 1st payment was 6 weeks after i applied so i had to juggle staying in hotels with trying to get away from my abusive parents checking my account every week, hoping the money was there ... that caused further stress i'm now diagnosed with anxiety and depression / with alcohol dependence which the new benefit pushed me towards especially as it was my only safety net, I can attach copies of my diagnosis' for you I then had to move to Colchester as the only homless service that would accomodate me was Emmaus I had to move away from my support network etc when i closed down my Universal Credit claim, i wasn't paid for the 3 weeks extra i had claimed .... it seems the new system doesn't pay for individual weeks which the previous better system did also my "housing element" had been lost and wasn't paid

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The 35 Hour Criteria

Some people can be working one, two zero hour contracts and still have to do job searches because some weeks they don't receive 35 hours work. This really needs to be adjusted 20 hours would be more sensible.

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The 35 Hour Criteria

Some people can be working one, two zero hour contracts and still have to do job searches because some weeks they don't receive 35 hours work. This really needs to be adjusted 20 hours would be more sensible.

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Disabled child... money halved!

If I change my circumstances and switch to uc my money is halved for my disabled son. Even tho the money I get now barely covers!

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Partner punished because he works

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Scrap it

How is a couple with children supposed to live on the same amount as a couple without. Why are you punishing the children? Or people for having children? Some people end up in a situation out of their control and you are not providing allowances for children! They need to be fed and clothed too, how do we pay for school uniforms, clothes, food for child, you are putting children into poverty. Child tax credit and child benefit should not be involved in this, a child deserves their own amount of monies for survival too. In all fairness it doesn't work anyway, try paying your rent and all of your bills and feeding two people out of this amount, people have car tax road tax utility bills food bills.. Seriously.. Disgusting

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Disabled and UC

I applied for my disabled son, I am his appointee. Due to his severe learning disability he is unable to work and will definitely be in the LCWRA group meaning that on top of his £251 a month he will be entitled to £316 a month too. However in order to get this he has to have a work capability assessment, I have been told that there is a huge backlog for appointments and he's not expected to get his assessment 'anytime soon'. The issue with this is even thought he will be placed in the LCWRAG after assessment his additional money does not get backdated and will only go from assessment date. So my son is missing out on payments he is entitled to for however long it's going to take through no fault of his own. How is this right! If there is a lifelong severe learning disability and supporting evidence from professionals the work assessment should be skipped

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I'm worried about uc

I recieved my official first Universal Credit payment today it was £165 to last me a month I'm just glad about my rent getting paid. After deductions from the intermediate loan I had to take out and the two days pay from being in a job two days of which I had to leave because of an accident and wasn't entitled to ESA I'm left with trying to survive on what I got today. I'm on my own with no family support and I suffer from depression and anxiety and have a curved spine.

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Universal Credit

I had to go onto universal credit after leaving my job, due to having a baby and getting so stressed about getting to work on time, as my job didn't work around my son's childcare. I left my job in November and applied for Universal Credit, I had to get an advanced payment. This advanced payment was of the sum of £330 to last me over two months (and over the Christmas period.) I've had to pay backthe advanced payment over this year, they take it out of the Universal Credit before it is paid to me. I finally received £770 in January and I was never told what the Universal Credit entailed, as my housing benefit got paid to the landlord, I assumed this was still the case. Until I found out that I was 2 months in arrears. I managed to pay off £450 of it but I am still struggling to pay off the rest of the £550 debt, along with my bills and trying to keep me and my son afloat. I have gone back to college to try to better my chances of getting a better paying job that works around him but it is extremely difficult. I'm just lucky that I have a family who are willing to support me, without them I'd probably be on the streets.

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Richard Gordon says

I receive UC as a carer,and in addition have a part time job for 2.5 hours per week.How does it make work pay when those earnings are taxed at an effective rate of 63%, higher than the top rate of income tax.

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