Citizens Advice answers questions on Universal Credit
- Credit: PA
Many people have been contacting Citizens' Advice because they have heard that Universal Credit is going to be cut from September.
There are huge concerns for those who feel they are already struggling to get by as it is and really worried that if they lose £20 a week they will end up in serious debt. I
Many of these people will already be behind on some of their bills and they want to know what they can do to avoid things getting worse. We want to reassure them that they are not alone in this and there is support available.
Firstly, depending on your situation, you might be able to ask to have your Universal Credit paid differently - these are called ‘alternative payment arrangements’.
This might be an option if you’re in debt or rent arrears, among other reasons. To apply for an alternative payment arrangement, call the Universal Credit helpline on: 0800 328 5644.
If you’re behind on some of your bills, the first step is to make a list of how much you owe and add up how much you need to pay each month.
You now need to prioritise your debts. We have advice on our website to help you do this. Some bills can cause you more problems than others if you don’t pay them.
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Rent or mortgage arrears, energy bills and Council Tax are your priority debts as there can be serious consequences if you don’t pay them.
Be sure to get in touch with the organisations you owe money to. Not everyone feels confident to do this, but they might be able to help by letting you pay smaller amounts or taking a break from payments.
Many organisations have put in place protections for people who’ve struggled to pay their bills during the pandemic.
The Government-backed Breathing Space scheme could also give you extra time. If you’re eligible, you could get 60 days where your creditors can’t contact you, take action to make you pay, or add interest and charges to your debt.
You'll need to get advice from a debt adviser first - they’ll check all your debts to see if they’re covered by the scheme.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to have a budget - take a look at the budgeting tool on our website and make sure you’re getting all the income you’re entitled to.
Everyone’s circumstances are different, particularly when it comes to managing personal finances. If you need more specific support or don’t feel able to manage your situation alone, call our helpline on: 0808 278 7807 or visit our website www.citizensadviceruralcambs.org.uk