What is 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. 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. If you think you may have to claim Universal Credit, you may find that reading our case studies are a useful starting point.
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 – find out how to make the switch
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.