Universal Credit is a new type of payment made by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to help with all of your living costs. It is paid monthly.
Your housing costs, which used to be paid by us in Housing Benefit payments, will now be paid within the Universal Credit (UC) payment from the DWP.
If you are liable to pay Council Tax, you should apply for Council Tax Reduction at the same time, as this can only be backdated for a limited period, if you show a good reason why it was not applied for earlier.
Universal Credit will replace the following benefits:
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Working Tax Credit
If you currently receive any of these benefits, you cannot claim Universal Credit at the same time.
You will not change to UC until you have a change to your financial circumstances, or you claim any of the above benefits for the first time.
The Council will continue to pay Housing Benefit to certain groups of people including those over State pensionable age, people receiving certain disability benefits, and those families with 3 or more children. These groups will gradually migrate to UC over time.
You may be able to get Universal Credit if you’re on a low income or out of work.
If you live with your partner, you may be able to claim Universal Credit if you or your partner are working. Your partner’s income and savings will be taken into account, even if they are not eligible for Universal Credit.
If you have children, you can make a new Universal Credit claim if any of the following apply:
- have 2 children or fewer
- received Universal Credit in a ‘full service’ area in the previous 6 months and your payments have stopped - it does not matter how many children you have.
You cannot claim if you have 3 or more children and you’ve not claimed Universal Credit in the last 6 months. You can apply for child tax credit instead.
How to claim
You need to apply for Universal Credit online:
You have to apply as a couple if you and your partner live together. You do not need to be married.
After you apply, you must contact your local Jobcentre Plus within 7 days to make an appointment with a work coach.
You will not get Universal Credit if you do not attend the appointment.
What you need to apply
You will need:
- your bank, building society or credit union account details (call the Universal Credit helpline if you do not have one)
- an email address
- your National Insurance number
- information about your housing, for example how much rent you pay
- details of your income, for example payslips
- details of savings and any investments, like shares or a property that you rent out
- details of how much you pay for childcare if you’re applying for help with childcare costs
If you do not provide the right information when you apply it might affect when you get paid or how much you get.
You also have to verify your identity online. You’ll need some proof of identity for this, for example your:
- driving licence
- debit or credit card
How it's paid
Universal Credit is paid once a month, usually into your bank, building society or credit union account.
Your payment can include an amount for housing costs which you’ll usually need to pay to your landlord.
If you’re not able to open a bank, building society or credit union account, call the Universal Credit helpline to arrange a different way of getting paid.
Your first payment
It usually takes around 5 weeks to get your first payment.
If you need help with your living costs while you wait for your first payment, you can apply for an advance.
The wait before your first payment is made up of a one month assessment period and up to 7 days for the payment to reach your account.
You’ll make an agreement called a ‘Claimant Commitment’ with your work coach.
What you need to do depends on your situation. You might need to do activities such as:
- write a CV
- look and apply for jobs
- go on training courses
You will also need to do things like:
- pay your own rent and other housing costs
- report any changes in your circumstances
If you’re claiming with your partner, you’ll each have a Claimant Commitment and set of responsibilities.
Universal Credit helpline
Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Other financial support
If you’re in financial difficulties, you can get help and advice at https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/universal-credit, from the Council and Citizens Advice.
You might be able to get a reduction in your Council Tax and you should apply for Council Tax Reduction at the same time as applying for UC.
You may also be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your Universal Credit payment is not enough to pay your rent, if your circumstances are exceptional.