Expansion of Universal Credit
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit has been operating in Flintshire since April 2014, providing financial support for low-income households who would normally have claimed Job Seekers Allowance.
From April 2017, Universal Credit is being expanded to all new claimants which is known as ‘full service’ Universal Credit and is replacing the following six benefits:
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Job Seekers Allowance
- Employment Support Allowance
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit.
How can I claim Universal Credit?
The government expects almost everyone to claim and manage their Universal Credit online.
To claim Universal Credit you must set up a Universal Credit account online. You will manage your ongoing claim online through this account, so you'll need regular online access to keep your circumstances up-to-date and ensure you are paid correctly.
Universal Credit accounts are designed to work equally on desktop PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Help with rent
The housing costs element of Universal Credit which replaces Housing Benefit for tenants, will be paid directly to you, rather than being paid to your landlord as is the case for many existing Housing Benefit claimants. However, those tenants who need budgeting support or who get into rent arrears after a month or two, can have their rent element and rent arrears paid directly to the landlord, for a temporary period.
How do I receive my Universal Credit?
To receive Universal Credit you will need an account with a bank, a building society or a credit union. Post Office card accounts may be too limited for Universal Credit.
Extra help and support
The Government recognises that the move to a single monthly household payment will be a significant change to the way most benefits are currently paid and has introduced the "alternative payment arrangements" scheme which provides the following help on a temporary basis if you are identified as needing additional support:
- Paying the housing element of Universal Credit as a "managed payment" directly to the landlord.
- More frequent payments than just once a month.
- A split payment of an award between partners.
Personal budgeting support will also be offered to you if you are deemed vulnerable and needing money advice to help you to cope with managing your money on a monthly basis and paying your bills on time.
For any further information, please visit the Universal Credit website.
If you need help or have any questions, you can also contact Local Connects offices which are located in Buckley, Connah's Quay, Flint, Holywell and Mold. They can offer help on how to make an online claim. There are PCs available to use free of charge.
More information on Flintshire Connects offices can be found here.
Extra care housing schemes moving forward
The new Extra Care Housing Scheme for older people in Flint, Llys Raddington is now under construction and is progressing well.
The scheme is located on the corner of Coleshill Street and Earl Street, opposite the Jade Jones Pavilion. The new development will open in spring 2018 with 73 apartments, offering one-bed and two-bed accommodation, with provision for people living with dementia.
Tŷ Glas, a subsidiary of Pennaf Housing Group, is managing the development of the scheme, with Anwyl carrying out the construction. They have received more than 50 enquiries to date, from local residents and potential tenants.
In Holywell, our Social Services and Housing teams have been working closely with Wales & West Housing Association to identify a viable site for the Holywell Extra Care scheme.
Following consultation and planning permission, the scheme will provide at least 50 units, including facilities and support for people living with dementia. Wales & West Housing Association is progressing with internal development and planning activities, in preparation for an outline planning application early in 2017.
The proposed site is the former Ysgol Perth Y Terfyn primary school on Halkyn Road, Holywell, targeting a 2019 opening date. A public information event was held in the town recently which was well attended.
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple” Dr. Seuss
Beth Cameron-Lyle has been teaching English at the Alun School in Mold for 13 years. Last year, after approaching the headteacher, Jane Cooper, she looked into introducing breathing strategies to some of her GCSE students.
The idea behind this was the help them manage difficulties with anxiety about their forthcoming exams. Young people were talking about their challenges with sleep, attachment to technology and the stresses and pressures of modern life.
Beth wanted to investigate how the school could offer students opportunities to learn some mindful methods to help themselves, not just for today, or even tomorrow- but as the first step in maintaining wellbeing and learning healthy coping strategies.
A suitable space was designed and equipped so that the young people could be taught meditation. And so the Breathing Space - Y Seibiant was created.
Ann Roberts, Flintshire Integrated Youth Provision (FIYP) Manager, has been very supportive. She understood the aims and ideas of the project and thought of the name as she was walking her dog, enjoying her own "breathing space". And so, a positive and supportive relationship between FIYP and Breathing Space began.
Breathing Space applied for the National Lottery’s “Awards For All Grant” and were awarded a grant of £5,000. FIYP continue to support the project and are now accessing staff training support at Breathing Space and hope to apply to host a part-time staff member within the Breathing Space unit soon. They have also committed to continue their strategic support and further access to the youth support grant. The grant has paid for training, art work and support. The group is also grateful to support from two businesses based in Mold – Howdens donated a kitchen and Travis Perkins donated materials to improve and plaster the walls.
“The space and our courses offer our young people ways of giving themselves a pause, a pocket of peace, the opportunity to create a calm within the storm of their busy day.”
FIYP funded Breathing Space’s artwork by local artist Wendi Shiel-Williams who worked with many of the teenagers to design the logo and the welcome hallway of the building. What was once a garage, a Pupil Referral Unit, an exam room- and is now a place where young people know that they can give themselves what they need - self-care: time, space, opportunities to learn about themselves – the physiology of the brain, its connection with the body – a human’s tendency to ruminate, catastrophise and our minds to story tell.
The Breathing Space received funding from FIYP to attend the National Eisteddfod and joined FIYP in their marquee at the event in Flint where they enjoyed spending time with families, creating calm jars and learning ways of being with difficult emotions.
The Alun School has written an "Introduction to Mindfulness" course into the Year 10 PE Curriculum. Through this course, students are empowered with information about their brain, minds, body – and learn practical ways to centre themselves and find their focus.
“The positive feedback has been overwhelming. We also linked with Ysgol Bryn Coch in 2016 and taught the whole of the Year 6 cohort a "Mindfulness in School" course - again, teaching 11 year olds about the functions of the brain that trigger our stress response. Children learnt about how to using soothing methods to allow themselves to concentrate, make good decisions and be their best. Children learnt about how we all have wobbles - just like Weebles! - but with methods of centring ourselves we can enjoy all parts of our life. We are currently teaching this course to the Year 6 classes at Mountain Lane, Buckley.”
The courses taught through the Breathing Space are appropriate for raising the attainment of students, building emotional and mental resilience, improving self-compassion and compassion to others. In the face of a social media dominated culture, young people have the chance to be with the simplicity of their breath.
The group has created a smaller, private room within the Breathing Space, funded by FIYP. This will enable them to work in a one to one setting, and allow other support groups, such as SORTED, deliver sessions which are in keeping with the Breathing Space’s ethos.
“We have recently secured £10,000 Tesco Bags of Help funding to create mindful outdoor spaces around the building.
“Added to this, we were successful in our National Lottery Celebration Grant bid and are currently working with local primaries, charities and organisations to offer workshops and taster sessions.”
The Breathing Space is starting to be used as a community building - by local yoga and Breathing Space teacher Jill Blandford.
I am a certified ‘Relax Kids’ coach and will be looking to introduce these sessions soon.”
All in all, 2016 has been a very exciting year for the Breathing Space and there is so much more to come as they link wider in the community. Their Facebook page shares relevant articles, recommendations and videos to support in their learning and development of mindfulness and meditation.