From the 5 July 2017 parts of Sandwell are moving to what’s called ‘Full Service’ Universal Credit (UC). This change applies to people who live in postcodes which start with the following combinations: B62 8, B64 5, B64 6, B64 7 B65 0 and B65 8
Most people, who are of working-age who live in one of these areas will no longer be able to make new claims for the following benefits (collectively known as legacy benefits): Housing Benefit, Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance (income based), Employment Support Allowance (income related), Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit. Instead – anyone who would previously claimed one of these benefits will now have to make a claim for UC (although there are certain limited exceptions, such as families with three or more children). If you live in the rest of the borough – you should still claim legacy benefits, although if you have no dependent children living with you and are under retirement age, you may be directed by the DWP to claim UC anyway.
People claiming UC who need help with housing costs should now claim for the Housing Cost element of UC rather than Housing Benefit, although some people aged under 22 are excluded from receiving this and will be unable to claim any support with housing. (Information about exemptions, i.e. young people who can still claim, is available on gov.uk). It is important to stress that anyone claiming UC who is liable to pay Council Tax should still make a separate application to the council to see if they are entitled to Council Tax Reduction. Sandwell residents can do this here. Landlords and advice agencies etc will no longer be able to chase progress on claims for support with housing costs with Sandwell Council as the council will no longer be responsible for administering those claims.
Sandwell’s Revenues and Benefits Service is putting out updates on Universal Credit progress (and similar subjects) via their Landlords Blog. Despite the title, the blog is aimed at anyone, not just landlords interested in housing or benefit issues. If you sign up as a follower, you will receive regular updates on Universal Credit and related subjects. The blog already has several articles on different aspects of UC, particularly around questions of rent payment/arrears. You can also find full information about UC on gov.uk. If you need more information about Sandwell Revenues and Benefits, please contact their Stakeholder Relations Officer – Oliver Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that the ‘roll-out’ to Universal Credit Full Service is happening at different rates in different areas and is more advanced in some neighbouring authorities than in Sandwell. A complete conversion to Full Service to cover all Sandwell postcodes is expected in July 2018.