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Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work. The main difference is that your rent will no longer be paid directly to your landlord and will be included in your monthly payment, giving you complete responsibility for your money and spending.

What is Universal Credit?

It replaces six of the existing benefits and tax credits, which are:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

Who can claim Universal Credit?

You may be able to claim Universal Credit if:

  • You live in the UK
  • You’re on a low income or out of work
  • You’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
  • You’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
  • You and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you

Visit the Government website to check whether you are eligible.

What do I need to do?

If you receive any of these benefits or tax credits and your circumstances change in a way that would have meant you would make a new claim to one of these benefits, you will need to claim Universal Credit instead.

If you are already claiming the existing benefits and/or tax credits, you won’t need to do anything until you are contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). They will get in touch with you if your circumstances have triggered the switch to Universal Credit.

What counts as a change of circumstance?

If you’re claiming one of the existing benefits and have a change in circumstance – for example, you’ve moved in with a partner – you may get moved onto Universal Credit.

What you’ll need to know about Universal Credit payments

Universal Credit is paid directly into your bank, building society or credit union account each month. This means that you’ll receive a lump sum payment each month and you will be required to manage your money because your rent will be paid directly to you, rather than 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 won’t come into your account for 5 weeks. To avoid getting into money problems you can always use a credit union as a source of affordable and local lending. They also offer current accounts and you can normally apply for these, even if you’ve had money problems in the past.

Remember to claim your council tax reduction

Council tax reduction support is not included in your Universal Credit payments. If you receive council tax reduction support or think you might be eligible, contact your local council.

Is it for you? Apply here

To claim, visit the Government website.

If you have made a claim for Universal Credit and need help or advice with managing your money or getting back in to work, let us know by contacting us.

Struggling? Have you thought about Alternative Payment Arrangements?

Universal Credit payments are paid monthly and is all about making people responsible for their money. Remember your rent payment is made to you and that you are responsible for paying it to Great Places.

If you find yourself struggling with one monthly payment, there are other payment options available. You may be able to:

  • have your monthly payment paid fortnightly instead;
  • to request to have your rent paid directly to Great Places through managed payments.
  • in some circumstances, for your payments to be paid to individuals rather than as one joint household as split payments.

You can learn more about Alternative Payment Arrangements on the Government website.


Budgeting advice

To make sure you are able to pay your rent on time and manage your payments, consider our budgeting advice page or use the budget calculator.

Manage your payments with a direct debit

Setting up a direct debit is the easiest way to make sure you can pay your rent each on time. You can set one up by calling us on 0300 123 1966 or by using our online web chat facility. You will need to have your bank account details ready.

Help to Save incentive

The Government have set up a Help to Save incentive scheme that is designed to encourage claimants of Universal Credit to save money. It pays a 50% bonus on the amount saved – up to a maximum of £1200. You can save between £1 and £50 per month, you don’t have to commit to saving money every month, and you can even make withdrawals if you find that you need a bit more money in your wallet. Want to find out more?