Universal Credit tweaked to make it easier for self-employed to get cash quicker – The Sun

THE application process for Universal Credit has been tweaked by the government to make it easier for self-employed Brits to get cash.

It comes as figures reveal that 1.4million people have claimed the benefit since March 16 when the UK coronavirus outbreak began.

Claimants can now use their existing Government Gateway account to confirm their identity, which should help speed up their claim.

It's available to self-employed who have used the Government Gateway in the past 12 months to send a personal tax return.

It can also be used to check tax credits and state pensions.

If you don't have one, you can apply for the benefit by confirming your identity using GOV.UK Verify.

This requires you to verify your identity using a provider such as Barclays, Experian or the Post Office, and usually takes between five and 15 minutes to use the first time.

What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit

IF you're experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don't cover costs, here are your options:

Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it's a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit pay out.

Alternative Payment Arrangements– If you're falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you're part of a couple.

Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the government to help with emergency household costs of up to £348 if you're single, £464 if you're part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You'll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You'll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.

Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax or be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your payments aren't enough to cover your rent.

Foodbanks – If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussel Trust website.

But due to the coronavirus crisis, some companies are struggling with the high demand.

The Post Office, for example, says it's experiencing delays for anyone looking to verify applications via its GOV.UK services.

A notice on the website says: "Our team are working hard to process all incoming verification applications and will fulfill your request in due course.

"Once your document has been processed, you'll receive an email. You can then log back into your account to resume your registration.

"If you need help, email [email protected] and we'll get back to you as soon as we are able."

You can find out more about how to apply for Universal Credit if you’re self-employed or have lost your job in our guide.

Universal Credit claimants no longer need to call to start claims, the Department for Work and Pensions said earlier this month.

The DWP has also revealed when its website is quietest to help those applying or checking for updates.

It came after Universal Credit phone lines were jammed with laid off workers waiting hours to get through.

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