Mrs & Mrs M’s experience of applying for Universal Credit
Several months ago, myself and my husband found ourselves in a situation where we had fallen into rent arrears with the Association. My husband and I always paid most of our rent, as we were entitled to very little assistance from Housing Benefit.
Then my husband fell ill. He was out of work and received very little financial support from his employer, which resulted in a significant reduction in our household income. As a result of the change in our circumstances, we found ourselves falling behind with most of our bills.
I then received a call from my Housing Officer at Newington Association regarding our level of rent arrears. Once I had explained our current situation and that we were struggling financially, he immediately offered to refer me for independent benefit advice. The next thing I knew, two benefits advisors from North Belfast Advice Partnership called with a computer.
We sat down and discussed things. Unbeknown to me, I was entitled to additional benefits. I was informed that as it would trigger a change in our circumstances, we would have to apply for Universal Credit. ‘Oh No’, I recall thinking, as I had previously heard about Universal Credit being such a difficult and terrible process.
I must admit, without the help from Niamh and her colleague, I probably wouldn’t have applied. I hadn’t a clue about computers or wouldn’t have known how to even start an application. The two of them talked me through the process and I only had to answer a few questions.
At the start it was a bit fidgety logging on to my U/C account via my phone, but after a while I got the hang of it and I can now see my payments clearly. To date it has been dead on for me, touch wood.
After my Universal Credit claim was up and running, my Housing Officer from Newington even contacted me by phone and helped me complete my online rates rebate application as well.
On behalf on me and my husband I wish to express my sincere gratitude to my Housing Officer and the team at NBAP for their support. Getting things sorted has taken a massive weight off our shoulders.
Finally, I just want to convey to others who may find themselves in our position, there is advice and support services out there, you just have to ask – it can make all the difference.
Mr & Mrs M
How to acquire a FULL BENEFIT HEALTH CHECK
You can book an appointment to see our dedicated Independent U/C Advisor, ‘Niamh’ by calling the Ligoniel Improvement Association on 028 9039 1225 or alternatively a referral can be made by the Association on your behalf. To avail of a referral, please contact your Housing Officer directly on 028 90 74 4055.