Benefits Customer news Support

Full Universal Credit service goes live in West Berkshire

The full Universal Credit service goes live in West Berkshire on 6 December, following its roll out in Southampton, Eastleigh and some parts of the New Forest in earlier this year.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new benefit, which will replace Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Job Seeker’s Allowance (Income Based), Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. It is now live across the country for single people who would normally be making a new claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The government is now starting to roll out the full, digital Universal Credit service to working age people. This means that all new claims in those areas, for any of the benefits listed above, will be made for Universal Credit instead. In addition, major changes of circumstances will also trigger a claim for Universal Credit. However people already claiming benefits won’t have to move onto Universal Credit until they are asked to, unless they have a major change of circumstances. Please seek advice first.

When is it live in my area?

The full service goes live on the following dates:

  • February 2017 - Southampton and some parts of the New Forest
  • July 2017 - Eastleigh
  • December 2017 – West Berkshire
  • May 2018 - Basingstoke 
  • July 2018 - Winchester, Test Valley
  • September 2018 - Portsmouth, Cosham, Lymington 
  • October 2018 - Aldershot, Bordon, Farnborough, Guildford, East Hampshire, Rushmoor, Hart, Waverley
  • November 2018 - Fareham, Gosport, Havant, Petersfield, Surrey Heath.

Key information about Universal Credit

  • You'll be paid once a month into your Bank Account. This includes your rent money. Make sure you have a bank account. You'll also need to make arrangements to pay your rent to us. The easiest way to pay your rent is to set up a Direct Debit. To find out more about this and the other ways that you can pay your rent click here if you’re a former First Wessex resident and here if you’re a former Sentinel resident.
  • You’ll have to wait 6-7 weeks for your first payment. If you're going to struggle to wait this long, you can apply for advance payment, but you'll have to pay this back. Speak to your work coach or call 03456 004272 to request one.
  • You need to apply and manage your claim online. If you don't have access to the internet at home, you can use your local library or Job Centre. Please call us if you need help. We might be able to help you with the application.
  • Council Tax Support. Remember to claim Council Tax Support through your local Council if you're eligible, as this isn't included in your Universal Credit payment.
  • Are you Pension Credit age? If you are part of a couple and one of you is of Pension age, you might be better off claiming Pension Credit instead of Universal Credit. If you’re unsure, get in touch.

How to prepare for making a Universal Credit claim

Before making a claim for Universal Credit, we’d recommend gathering the following information to make the online claim process easier. You’ll need to be able answer the following questions:

  • What is you housing situation? (You’re renting from and paying rent to a Housing Association/ Social Landlord)
  • When did you move into this address?
  • How much is your rent?
  • How much are you service charges (eligible for Universal Credit)?
  • How often do you pay your rent?
  • Have you got any rent clear weeks?
  • What is your landlord’s address? (VIVID, Peninsular House, Wharf Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO2 8HB)

*Please note, if you’re a former First Wessex resident, you can find this information on the customer portal.

During the application you’ll have to verify your identity online. We’d encourage that you try to register as soon as possible – here’s a link to the government verification page.

If you’re unable to verify, you’ll need to make sure you have the correct documents for when you need to make a claim for Universal Credit. Watch this helpful Universal Credit YouTube video for a list of documents that you’ll need.

Giving you the support you need

We're here to help, so if you need any support or have any questions please get in touch.