BENEFITS claimants in Tendring are being urged to get ready for the introduction of Universal Credit in the district this summer.

Universal Credit is replacing job seekers’ allowance, employment support allowance, working tax credit, child tax credit, income support and housing benefit with a single payment system.

The Clacton community branch of the Unite union said the “controversial” system could increase poverty with some disabled people being left nearly £4,500 a year worse off.

It fears the number of evictions could also spike.

The new system comes into effect in two phases during July when people make a new claim for any of the existing benefits.

They will then find all their benefits replaced with universal credit.

While the changes are led by the Department for Work and Pensions through Job Centres, universal credit does not include local council tax support, the discount on council tax for people on low incomes.

People will apply directly to the council for help with their council tax.

An awareness campaign has already started with council housing tenants, some of whom receive housing benefit, to make them aware of the changes.

Tendring Council finance boss Carlo Guglielmi said it was vital people applied for council tax support if they move onto universal credit.

“We understand the transition to universal credit may be a worrying time for those in receipt of benefits, and that is why we are trying to make sure everyone is aware of the changes,” he said.

“To make sure that those who qualify benefit from local council tax support – and to make sure the council is not expecting council tax from those who should not be paying it – it is important that people apply separately to us for it.”

Conservative Clacton MP Giles Watling said there is cross-party support for universal credit and it is a “positive development” away from the former fragmented benefits system.

He added that extra cash was announced in the budget to address issues with the delivery of the new system.

To apply for local council tax support or to find out more, go to