All change – Universal Credit to replace benefit payment system

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All change – Universal Credit to replace benefit payment system

Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC) is asking residents who claim benefits to take steps to ensure they are ready for major changes coming this month (October).

The new payment system, called Universal Credit, comes into force on Wednesday October 11.  It means the majority of claimants of working age MUST have a bank account that can set up Direct Debits and their own email address.  As Universal Credit applications can only be made online it is also important that potential claimants are able to access the internet regularly.

Residents affected will not be moved onto Universal Credit automatically, only when there is a specific change in their circumstances, but new and existing claimants are strongly advised to ensure they are ready to avoid any delay in getting their benefits as these will only be back-dated in exceptional circumstances. 

EBC is working closely with a number of organisations to seek ways to ease the transition period for claimants.

Council leader David Tutt said council officers were ready to offer help and guidance on this new system which the council has been directed to introduce on behalf of the government. 

“We are working hard to notify our tenants and other residents who receive benefit payments that major changes are coming,” he said.  “Despite our best efforts, we know that a significant number will still be unprepared for Universal Credit.  We will be on hand to introduce them to organisations ready to help get them started.”

Cllr Tutt said drop-in advice sessions at 1 Grove Road will be running from October 11, between 10am and 2pm Monday to Friday.  Council officers will be on hand to explain the changes in greater detail and help people make the necessary changes. 

The move to monthly benefit payments aims to streamline the current approach into one single payment of benefit.  It replaces:

  • Income support
  • Working tax credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Housing benefit
  • Income-based Jobseekers’ Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support allowance

Eastbourne residents will have to claim and manage their Universal Credit (UC) payments online.  People receiving housing benefit will see this included with their monthly UC payment.  It must be used to pay rent.

People will not get any Universal Credit for the first seven days of their claim.  In most cases, it will take at least six weeks to get their first payment.

There are three main groups of people who will NOT need to claim UC: people who are not of working age, people with three or more children and people who live in specified supported  accommodation. 

Further information and support is available through the following organisations:

Advice about benefits including how UC could affect you - East Sussex Benefits Helpline - 0333 344 0681

Making a Universal Credit claim - Jobcentre Plus

Request an advance payment - Universal Credit Helpline 0345 600 0723

If you have had previous difficulty opening a bank account - East Sussex Credit Union 0300 303 3188

Help using a computer/setting up an email account/internet access - Eastbourne Library 

General information on the switch to UC can be found on the Department for Work & Pensions website at