Universal Credit: Use this tool to help with money management | Personal Finance

Money Manager is a tool created by the Money Advice Service to help those who claim Universal Credit. It’s meant to be used by those making new claims or moving their existing benefits to the new system. The two key areas it focuses on are helping people who are waiting for their first payment to come through, as well as aiding those who are already receiving payments.

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The information and advice that comes from the tool is all generated from the organisation’s own experts, as well as from existing claimants who have detailed what they found to be useful information and advice.

It’s important to know that when using this tool the advice is only for the claimant’s specific circumstances.

The information is not designed to be generalised or applicable for all.

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Budget support

Claimants can get help for managing their Universal Credit budgets (Image: GETTY)

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Those claiming Universal Credit may find the process stressful (Image: GETTY )

The Money Advice Service says that the benefits of using the tool can include useful information on budgeting, rent payments, money saving tips and the best bank accounts for managing payments.

The tool is simple to use; it utilises multiple choice questions for easy to understand questions. To start with, the tool asks for where the claimant lives and the answers are split among the countries within the UK.

Once the selection is made, the questions moving forward focus more specifically on personal circumstance. The first question asks if the claimant has already received their first payment.

It then asks for relationship status, what kind of housing they’re living in and if they’re behind on any rent payments, if any bills are paid directly from a bank account or cheque, details for any debts and information for family or carer details.

Once all of this information is put into the Money Manager tool, it will provide three separate sections of useful information. These three sections are “To Read” “What Next?” and “My Money”.

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In this first section, advice is provided based on the answers given. It provides thorough information on how to manage money and claim benefits effectively.

The advice can cover how to claim with children, managing rents and mortgages, handling bills and other debts and various other useful advice.

The information given is very thorough, covering multiple pages. However, if for any reason the claimant needs further help the tool provides links to various other departments and websites.

For example, advice is given for handling debt effectively but a link is provided which leads to another page that details contact information for various free debt advice organisations.

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This next section is focused on practical steps to aid the claimants situation. It is presented as a to do list, it is interactive and allows you to “tick off” tasks when completed.

The tasks themselves are split into two categories. There is a “Now” and a “Soon” category.

The “Now” category contains things which should be completed in the following week.

Examples can include setting up a direct debit or standing order for rent or check on existing bank accounts to make sure they’re the best option.

The “Soon” section is more long term, focusing on things to achieve over the following month.

Examples include setting up savings accounts for spare cash and seeking out low-cost methods of borrowing money.

The entirety of this section will be based on what was produced in the “To Read” section, meaning that any tasks assigned are unique to the claimant.

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Debt

There have been reports of people falling into debt as a result of delayed Universal Credit payments (Image: GETTY)My Money

The final section is an interactive calculator, designed to help work out how much money will be available after all of the essential bills are paid.

It will initially ask for the amount of the claimants first payment.

Following this, it will ask for details on any other income, rent or mortgage costs, amount spent on food and drink, debt repayments, and household bills.

Once all of this information is detailed, the tool will break down all the money in and out for the claimant. It will provide an exact figure for any disposable income remaining, which can be broken down into a daily or weekly amount.

Utilising this tool and the advice given may be prudent as there has been problems with the rollout of Universal Credit.

There have been reports of delays to payments which has led to claimants ending up in debt. Recent reports and surveys have found that a quarter of those receiving Universal Credit are in problematic levels of debt.

The fear of falling into debt alone has delayed the full rollout of the system, with many people being hesitant to move from the old benefits system.