Q: I have been claming Universal Credit with my husband for around six months now, and have been looking for work.
I have now been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and I don’t feel able to look for work at the minute.
I want to end my Universal Credit claim and go onto Employment and Support Allowance, but I’m not sure how to do it.
A: Once you are claiming Universal Credit you do not need to end the claim in order to claim something else.
Instead, you would make an application for ‘New Style’ Employment and Support Allowance if you have been working and paying National Insurance contributions over the past few years.
New style Employment and Support Allowance is not means tested and can be paid alongside any earnings that your husband may have.
If you have not paid sufficient National Insurance Contributions then you can remain on Universal Credit, but self-certify for the first seven days.
You would then need to submit a sick note by giving the details on your Universal Credit online account and then posting the sick note to the address given.
For the first 14 days of your period of sickness you do not have to look for work, but you may have to participate in ‘work preparation activities’ (unless you have had two previous periods of sickness).
From day 15 any work related activity must be reasonable bearing in mind the health condition that you have.
After you have submitted sick notes for four weeks you will be referred for a Work Capability Assessment to confirm whether or not you are capable of work at that time.
If you are found to have limited capability for work then you will continue on Universal Credit, but will not have to complete your work searches.
You will have to complete work preparation such as building your CV and attending courses. If you are placed in the Support Group and found to have limited capability for work related activity, then you will not have to participate in any work preparation or searches.
Q: I own my own home, but I am looking to rent it and to move into rented accommodation in Sunderland. Would I be able to claim Housing Benefit in the new property? I work part-time and I get Working and Child Tax Credit.
A: Sunderland will not be a full Universal Credit area until May 2018, which means that you would be able to make an application for Housing Benefit if you are earning over £338 per month, but if there is equity in the property to rent out then it would be treated as capital and would be taken into account when assessing your Housing Benefit claim.
Capital of over £6,000 would affect a Housing Benefit claim and would start to reduce your award. Any capital over £16,000 would mean that you are not entitled to Housing Benefit. The figure that an estate agent would use for a quick sale is what would be used in the calculations, less 10% for selling fees and any outstanding debts on it. If there is a reason it cannot be sold, then the property may be deemed to have a nil value.