Start your engines - get ready for the switch to UC

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is gradually replacing the existing benefits listed below:

  • 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 get one or more of those benefits, you’ll be asked to move onto Universal Credit. You can stay on them for the moment unless you have had a change of circumstance. For example, you might need to start claiming Universal Credit if you’ve moved to a different local authority, split up with a partner, or had your first child. Check the Government website for a list of the different types of changes in circumstances that you’ll need to report.

If you haven’t had a change of circumstances, you won’t usually need to claim Universal Credit until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) contacts you.

Once you start claiming Universal Credit, you won’t be able to go back and receive the benefits you were previously entitled to.

What do I need to apply?

  • A payment method: You will need a bank, building society or credit union account to receive your payments. If you need help in setting up a bank account, Great Places works with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to help customers set up current accounts. You’ll need to take proof of identity and a copy of your tenancy agreement to your local RBS branch.
  • Ongoing internet access: You will need this to manage your claim as it’s all done online. You will need to think about where and when you can access this account as you may need daily access. If you don’t already, you could consider getting wifi at home or accessing an online centre near you.
  • An email address: You will need this to access your online account. You can set-up one for free online.
  • Proof of identify: You’ll need to be able to verify your identity online such as a passport or driving licence. If you are unable to verify your identity online, you must book and attend an ID appointment at the Job Centre.
  • Details of your income, for example payslips
  • Details of any savings and/or investments
  • Details of how much you pay for childcare if you’re applying for help with childcare costs

Visit the Government website for details about what you need to make your claim. 

Getting an advance on your first payment

You will receive your first Universal Credit payment after 5 weeks. If you need help to pay your bills, your rent or cover other costs while you wait for your first payment, you can apply to get an advance payment. Please remember that the advance payment is a loan and you will need to pay it back.

Are you facing financial difficulties?

If you’re facing financial difficulties, you can get help and advice from the government, local councils and other organisations. Visit the Government website for information about advance payments, Alternative Payment Arrangements (APA) and Budgeting Advances.

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