Recently Unemployed

From Advising Communities (now closed):

Our client was married and was living with his wife and 2 children aged 15 and 18. Both his children were in full-time non-advanced education and the client was still in receipt of Child Benefit for them. The family was living in privately rented accommodation.

Client's partner worked part-ime (15 h p/w) and earned about £600 p/m. Client used to work full time but he lost his job recently. He wanted to apply for Job Seekers Allowance but he was told that he needed to make a claim for Universal Credit. He did that but did not understand the implications on other benefits (that everything but Child Benefit would stop), or that he would need to wait over 6 weeks to receive a payment.

Client and his partner used to receive Tax Credits and Housing Benefit but these stopped after he claimed Universal Credit.

The client also had two credit card debts but was supported to ask for a suspension in interest payments pending an improvement in his financial situation. 

When we did a calculation of the amount of Universal Credit he and his family would receive and took out the costs of his accommodation, bills, food and clothing for the family, without taking into account payments towards his debts, the family would still be short of about £20 per week to meet their essential costs.

During the period when Universal Credit payments were still pending, they had to live on £600 for the month and as they made a claim while there was still a waiting period before Universal Credit starts, they also would have two weeks or more with no payments for their children or their rent and would need to contribute to clear any arrears that may accrue for that period.