We offer a free and confidential benefits advice service. Our advisors can tell you what benefits you might be able to claim, and can help you fill in application forms. Here's the latest information on the benefits you might be entitled to. For more help, contact us on: 01733 396483.

Universal Credit - what is it?

Universal credit logo

Universal Credit is the new name for income-related benefits for working age people. It’s a single monthly payment which replaces:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit.

Please note: if you start claiming Universal Credit your housing benefit entitlement will be paid directly to you. It will be YOUR responsibility to pay this to us plus any shortfall in rent.

Claiming Universal Credit puts you in control of your finances allowing you to manage your money just as if you were receiving a monthly salary. The Citizens Advice Bureau offers free confidential support with budgeting. Please speak to your Work Coach at the Job Centre to arrange an appointment for this extra support.

Watch this video to learn more about Universal Credit:

What do I need to do?

If you’re unsure about which benefits you can claim, call us for advice on: 01733 396483.

If you want to make a claim for Income Support, Income Based JSA, Income-based ESA, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit, you’ll now need to apply online for Universal Credit instead.

You’ll need a bank account or Credit Union account to do this. If you don’t have access to the internet, you can pop into any of our offices to use our computers, free of charge.

This film tells you what you need to complete your claim:

Once you’ve submitted your claim for Universal Credit, you’ll be invited to an interview with a Work Coach at Jobcentre Plus. You’ll need to show evidence that you have a tenancy with us. Call us on 01733 385000 if you need information to support your claim.

What will I get?

The amount of Universal Credit you’ll get will depend on your circumstances and your income. Use this benefits calculator to help you work out which benefits you can claim.

Please note: your claim won’t progress until you’ve had your interview with your Work Coach and signed a claimant commitment. This will take place around a week after you’ve submitted your online claim.

Can I work while I claim? 

If you claim Universal Credit, there is no limit to the number of hours you can work each week. Your payment will reduce gradually as you earn more.

How will I be paid?

Your Universal Credit will be paid once a month as a lump sum into your bank, building society or credit union account

You might be entitled to payments fortnightly if you think that monthly payments will be too difficult to manage. Speak to your work coach for more information about this.

You might have to wait up to five weeks to get your first payment and it will be paid monthly in arrears. So it’s important that you budget your money carefully.

If your rent account falls into arrears, or arrears increase during this time, you can safeguard your tenancy by paying full rent (once the payment has been assessed), plus an affordable amount towards your arrears. Maintaining regular payments will help you to keep your home.

We don’t expect you to pay off all your arrears at once. We can make an agreement that’s affordable to you. Just call us on: 01733 396483.

Useful information if you are moving to Universal Credit

  • Make sure you pay your rent first – it's very important that you pay your rent on time as failure to pay may result in you losing your home.
  • Get online – this is the only way you’ll be able to claim Universal Credit. Don’t forget we provide free computer access at all of our offices.
  • Get a bank account – your Universal Credit will need to be paid directly into a bank account/building society or Credit Union account. Peterborough Rainbow Savers is your local Credit Union. To set up an account, call them on: 01733 686483.
  • Work out your monthly budget – as Universal Credit will change the amount of money you receive each month, it’s a good idea to take a fresh look at how you manage your money.  The Money Advice Service online budget planner is a good way to track where your money is going each month.
  • If you’re already in rent arrears – you should contact us to discuss and agree a plan for making your rent payments. We’ll also be able to answer any questions you have about Universal Credit.

Before you start making your claim, you can try the Getting ready for Universal Credit quiz.

Or read the Government guide to Universal Credit and You.

Universal Credit - managing my rent

Once you have applied for Universal Credit it is important that you contact us to let us know the date that you made your claim and when you are likely to receive your first payment.

These frequently asked questions should help you understand how Universal Credit works and what it means for you and your rent payments.

I have always had Housing Benefit so what happens now?

Housing Benefit stops as soon as you make your claim for Universal Credit (UC).  Once you have made this claim the help with your rent that you used to receive from Housing Benefit will be paid through your UC award.  This is called the Housing Cost Element.  You may continue to receive Housing Benefit for two more weeks after you have made your claim for UC which is designed to help you through this change in your benefits. 


I have made a claim for UC what do I do now?

An essential part of managing your UC claim is through your online portal.  You will therefore need to log into this daily to see if anything has been added to your “to do” list. If you fail to complete any of the actions on this list it could affect your claim which in turn could impact on your expected payments.

As soon as you make your application, you should contact us to let us know when you are likely to receive your first payment. We also recommend that you register for MyCKH so you can start managing your rent account online. 


Why do I have to verify the amount of rent I pay?

When you make a claim for UC, as your landlord, we will be asked to verify your weekly rent and service charge amounts.  You may be asked to re-verify that these amounts are correct.  This is to ensure that the calculation of your Housing Cost Element is correct. 


I live in a Sheltered Scheme, do I still have to claim UC?

Yes, if you are told that you need to claim UC then you will need to do this.  As part of your claim you must declare the rent and service charges you pay. If you are in any doubt then speak to your Incomes Adviser or Scheme Manager who will be able to help you.


How do I know how much UC I have been paid?

This can be found on your UC portal. Payment information appears approximately 7 days before your payment is due. Your work coach can help you navigate to the correct screen. They can also help you understand the payment breakdown as you need to be aware of any deductions as well as payments.


Will the Housing Cost Element (HCE) cover all of my rent & service charge?

Your rent may be made up of different elements. If it includes service charges some of these may not be covered by the Housing Cost Element. Your award may also be affected by the number of bedrooms it is perceived that you need. Speak to your work coach for help on what you will receive.  Whatever your HCE award is, you still need to pay your full rent.

You can check the current cost of your weekly rent and service charges on MyCKH.


My rent is charged weekly, how will they calculate my monthly award?

They will take the cost of your weekly rent and multiply this by 52.  This figure will then be divided by 12.

For example:  If your weekly rent is £100 then £100 x 52 = £5,200 which divided by 12 = £433.34 per month. 


If I get an advance UC Payment, do I need to pay some towards my rent?

If your advance includes an award for rent then it is important that you pay the Housing Cost Element to us. You should also speak to your Income Adviser if you are worried about rent arrears.

If you have an advance you will need to pay this back within 12 months by deductions from your monthly UC award. This means your ongoing UC payments will be reduced until this amount is paid back in full.  You will need to take this into account when you are working out your monthly budget.


What happens if I keep the money or use it for something else?

If you do not use your Housing Cost Element to pay your rent you will accrue arrears. An application is likely to be made to the court to seek possession of your home as this constitutes a breach of tenancy.

Check your current rent account balance on MyCKH.


I am struggling to manage my money what can I do?

It is important for you to be able to budget so that you can make your rent payments. You can get help with personal budgeting by speaking to your work coach who will be able to signpost you to helpful resources and local organisations. 


What is a managed payment?

A managed payment or Alternative Payment Arrangement is where the Housing Cost Element is paid directly to your landlord. Deductions can also be made for rent arrears.  Your portal will tell you if you have a managed payment in place. If you are unsure speak to your work coach.


Can I ask to have my Housing Element paid direct to you?

In some circumstances you can request for a managed payment be made direct to Cross Keys Homes. You need to be aware though that this is always paid in arrears and can mean that your first payment to your rent account is delayed by up to 2 months. Please speak to your Income Adviser before making this request as it may not be the best option for you.


My wages and UC award are paid on different days, when should I pay my rent?

Look at your finances and work out what would be the best day to make your rent payment. If you are in any doubt then speak to your Income Adviser.

Use MyCKH to manage your rent account online. 


My Housing Cost Element is not my full rent, why?

This could be for a variety of reasons.  The most common reason is because you receive income from wages or other benefits that reduce your award.  If you are a joint tenant and only you live in the property then you may only receive half of your monthly rent amount. In the first instance you should speak to your work coach about this.


Can I just pay you my Housing Cost Element (HCE)?

You are responsible for paying your rent in full and on time, no matter how much HCE you receive. If you are in arrears you will also need to make extra payments to clear them.

You can check your current balance and recent transactions on MyCKH at any time. 

Bedroom Tax

What is Bedroom Tax and will it affect you?image of money box

In 2013 the Government introduced the ‘Bedroom Tax’, also known as the Spare Room Subsidy. This means that you’ll receive less Housing Benefit, or Housing Cost Element if you are receiving Universal Credit, if your home has more bedrooms than you need.

Government rules say:

  • children of different sexes, under the age of 10 are expected to share a room
  • children of the same sex, under 16 are expected to share a room
  • each adult or couple can have their own bedroom
  • no extra rooms are allowed for when someone visits – this includes children who are staying with a parent they don’t normally live with. Only one parent can have the room allowance for the child, even when the parents share access.

You won’t be affected if you or your partner receives a state pension.

What happens if I have too many rooms?

Government rules say:

  • if you have one bedroom more than you need, your Housing Benefit or Housing Element will be cut by 14%
  • if you have two or more bedrooms than you need, your Housing Benefit or Housing Element will be cut by 25%.

For example, if you claim £100 a week and you have one spare bedroom, your benefit will be cut by £14 a week. If you have two or more spare bedrooms, your benefit will be cut by £25 a week.

What can I do if you have too many rooms?

If you decide to stay in your home, you’ll need to pay the difference between the rent and the housing benefit you receive. It’s your responsibility to pay all your rent to us and keep your account up to date. If you fall into arrears you could lose your home.

Alternatively, you could move to a smaller home by downsizing or find out about swapping your home. You may also be able to apply for discretionary housing payments from your local council.


Non-dependant deduction

A non-dependant is someone who’s over 18 and lives with you, such as a son, daughter, relative or friend.

A deduction is made from your claim for each non-dependant living in your home. Your benefit will be reduced by a set amount, based on the non-dependant's weekly income before tax.

Benefit capping

Benefit capping

For residents living in the East of England, the maximum amount of benefits you can receive are:

  • £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you’re in a couple, whether your children live with you or not
  • £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you’re single and your children live with you
  • £257.69 per week (£13,400 a year) if you’re single and you don’t have children, or your children don’t live with you

Benefits included in the cap

The cap applies to the total amount of benefit received by the people in your household (you, your partner and any children living with you). This includes claims for:

Payments towards carers’ costs in Universal Credit aren’t affected by the benefit cap.