When does universal credit take effect?

Most landlords and letting agents won’t see any real effect of universal credit until April 2014.

Phase 1, April 2013 – October 2013

Phase 1 of universal credit will only rollout in four Greater Manchester boroughs namely:

  • Tameside
  • Warrington
  • Oldham
  • Wigan

In addition, during this phase, any person claiming universal credit in the Greater Manchester boroughs listed above must be part of the “Pathfinder Group[1]

In order for a person to be part of the ‘Pathfinder Group’ (and able to claim during phase 1) they must:

  • not be homeless, in supported or temporary accommodation or a homeowner
  • be single, with no dependent children, a British citizen and aged between 18 years and 60 years and 6 months
  • be fit for work
  • not be pregnant
  • not be receiving existing benefits (including Housing Benefit) or Tax Credits
  • not be in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • have expected take home pay no higher than £270 per month (under 25s) or £330 per month (25 or over) and not have savings in excess of £6,000
  • not have any caring responsibilities
  • not be self-employed, in education or have to rely on an appointee; and
  • have a valid bank account and National Insurance Number.

As can be seen from this extensive list, persons able to claim during phase 1 is greatly limited to single people, able to work, not homeless and not on any other benefit (so new claimants only).

During phase 1, there will be very few claimants indeed which will give Greater Manchester an opportunity to evaluate computer systems and procedures in a steady manner.

Phase 2, October 2013 – April 2014

The Department for Work and Pensions (‘DWP’) is currently working with local authorities via the universal credit local support services framework

This framework will lead to partnership agreements between local authorities and the DWP where the authorities will help and support people who wish to claim universal credit in their area. The help and support will include things like assistance with the on-line claim form, advice on the amount they might receive, advice on finding work and such.

From October 2013 – April 2014, persons within the ‘pathfinder group’ as discussed above for phase 1 (single, not on benefits, able to work and new claimants only) will be able to claim universal credit in areas where a partnership agreement is in place. It’s not known exactly what those areas will be just yet and more should be known nearer October. However, even during phase 2, the number of claimants will be very small indeed.

Phase 3, April 2014 – 2017

From April 2014, starting with new claimants from April 2014 and transitioning existing claimants up to 2017, universal credit will be rolled out nationally. From April 2014, persons claiming universal credit will no longer need to be part of the ‘pathfinder group’ so all persons entitled will be able to claim.