Make the most of your Universal Credit payments

You'll get a single monthly payment for your household

Visa's UK Consumer Spending Index

A new tool helps you manage your everyday bills and spending while claiming Universal Credit.

Being on Universal Credit means you may have to rethink the way you manage your everyday money. This new benefit works differently to the old benefits it's replacing, like Housing Benefit and tax credits.

See also: The time may have come for pensioner benefits to be cut

See also: Universal credit concerns of claimant who advertised the system

When you're on Universal Credit you'll get a single monthly payment for your household paid into a bank account and if you're paying rent, you'll pay it directly to your landlord out of your monthly payment. You might have to wait up to six weeks for your first payment.

To help you cope with the changes, we've developed the Online Money Manager tool that's designed especially to help you if you're claiming Universal Credit.

How the Online Money Manager will help you

In the tool you'll find loads of tips and advice on things like managing your rent or mortgage payments, getting better deals on household bills or opening a bank account.

You can also use the My Money Manager calculator that splits up your monthly payment into weekly or daily amounts to help you keep within your spending limits.

There's advice on where to get help and support if you won't have much money until your first payment, or if you're worried about debts piling up or getting behind with your rent.

To start using the tool, all you need to do is answer a few simple questions to get advice for your personal circumstances.

If you want, you can save the information so it's ready and waiting for you the next time you need it.

And if you need help sorting out what to do next, you can use a handy checklist to make sure you haven't missed anything.

Budgeting tips if you're on Universal Credit

Meanwhile, here's some more budgeting tips to help you while you're on Universal Credit. You can find more detailed advice on all these topics inside Online Money Manager.

List all your income and outgoings

Keep track of how much money you have coming in and how much you need to spend on essentials. You can use the Online Money Manager to help.

Divide your spending into essential and non-essential items

Take a look at your spending and create two lists: one for things you really need, and another for things you could live without. Be ruthless and cut back as much as you can.

Sort out your rent or mortgage payments

Make sure you keep your rent or mortgage money separate from your everyday spending money. Think about setting up a Direct Debit or standing order to pay your landlord or lender directly each month after you get your first Universal Credit payment.

Think about how you'll manage a monthly payment

Universal Credit is paid monthly so if you're used to working out your spending weekly or fortnightly, you'll need to start managing your money across the whole month.

Work out how you'll cover your essential outgoings

These include rent or mortgage, Council Tax, utility bills, and repayments on loans, credit cards or store cards. If there's a risk you'll fall behind with payments, don't bury your head in the sand. Lenders, councils and landlords can work with you to manage repayments if you tell them as soon as there's a problem.

Get better deals on regular bills

With essential bills, like your gas, electricity or phone, you could save up to £200 a year if you switch to a better deal. Even making a single call to your current provider to ask about cheaper tariffs could make you better off.

Check for insurance policies and make a claim

If you've taken out any income or payment protection policies you might find the insurance company will cover loan repayments if you're not working. Check your policy paperwork if you're not sure.

Think before you borrow

If you're tempted to borrow, think carefully about how you will keep up with repayments. If you must borrow, credit unions can offer cheaper loans than payday or door-step lenders, and will work with you to set affordable repayments.

Prioritise debts – and get help if you're struggling

Your rent or mortgage, Council Tax and gas or electricity bills are priority bills. If you're struggling to pay them, get free, confidential debt advice as soon as you can. A debt adviser can help you manage your debts even if you think you have no spare money to deal with them. The Debt Advice Locator Tool will help you find free advice in your area.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.