If you're the right age to be in work, the new 'Universal Credit' system will mean you get a single benefit instead of a range of in-work and out-of-work benefits.
So it'll replace:
• income-based jobseeker’s allowance
• income-related employment and support allowance
• housing benefit
• income support
• working tax credits
• child tax credits.
If you depend on any of those benefits, you'll want to know how you'll be affected by this change - so we've put together a short guide to Universal Credit in Scotland. We hope this'll put your mind at ease and help you get ready for a new system that's very different to the one we're all used to.
When is Universal Credit being introduced?
It'll be introduced in Scotland from October 2013 onwards. It won't all happen in one go - people who make new benefit claims will be the first to get Universal Credit. If you're already a claimant, you'll start getting it sometime between 2014 and 2017.
Why is Universal Credit being introduced?
It's supposed to remove a lot of the 'barriers' that have held people back from starting work. So you should be able to take a job without worrying about losing one of the benefits you receive - and having to do without while you're waiting for your wages to start coming in or a different benefit to start being paid.
It's also meant to make things simpler.
What if I get a job or start working longer hours?
If you earn more, you'll get less in benefits - but they won't just stop!
Will I be worse off?
According to the Government, no-one will be worse off because they've moved to Universal Credit. If it looks like you will be worse off, you should get a 'top-up payment' so your income stays where it was under the old system.
How often will it be paid?
Universal Credit will be paid monthly. A lot of people have already warned of the problems this could cause: millions of people are used to getting a week's worth of money at a time, so they'll have to get used to stretching it out over a month. We hope you find our guide to Budgeting useful - or you could call us on 0161 605 4810 to talk to one of our advisers.
Is there a maximum I can receive?
There will be a 'benefit cap' - a limit to the amount you can get through Universal Credit.
The benefit cap will apply to all benefit claimants by September 2013, although in some cases (if you're disabled, for example), the cap might not apply to you.
There's a lot more to Universal Credit than we've covered here. Check out the official Universal Credit site if you want to know more about it.