Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit which is paid monthly, for working age people. It is designed for people out of work, or on a low income. It has replaced the following benefits and tax credits:
- Housing Benefit
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
New claims to these 6 benefits are closed from 11 October 2017. Instead, you will now make a claim for Universal Credit and from 01 February 2019 this will now include families with 3 or more children. When you claim Universal Credit, any of the other benefits in the list will stop immediately, except your Housing Benefit which will continue for 2 weeks if this was in payment before you made your claim for Universal Credit.
What are the main differences with Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is one payment, which is made up of:
- Standard Allowance (the amount for you and your partner to live on)
- Housing Costs Element (the amount of support towards your rent)
- Child Element (for any dependent children)
- Carer Element (if you are entitled to Carer's Allowance for looking after a disabled person)
- Child Care Costs Element
- Disabled Child Addition (if you have dependent children that receive disability benefits)
- Work Capability Element (if you are unable to work due to ill health)
- From 14 January 2019, Severe Disability Premium element
Universal Credit payments include housing costs for your rent, which means it is your responsibility to make payments onto your rent account. You may however request your Housing Cost Element payment to be made direct to St Leger Homes if you meet certain conditions which can find here.
Universal Credit is paid monthly and in arrears; you should receive your first payment within 6 weeks of making a claim and then on the same date every month.
If you don’t have enough to live on while you wait for your first payment you may be able to get an advance within the first month of your Universal Credit claim. If you are eligible for an advance it should be paid to you within 5 working days. The advance may include your Housing Costs and this must be paid towards your rent. An advance is repaid by taking deductions from your monthly Universal Credit payment. The first deduction is made on the day you get your first payment and you’ll have up to 12 months to pay this back.
You are responsible for managing your Universal Credit account online. This will be how you communicate with your work coach to raise any enquiries relating to your claim or to report changes in your circumstances. You will also be able to view your expected payment up to one week before your payment is due.
Help with your housing costs, known as Housing Costs Element, is calculated by multiplying your weekly rent by 52 and then dividing it by 12.
You will still be subject to the Social Sector Size Criteria reduction (Bedroom Tax).
A claim for Universal Credit can be made up to 1 month in advance. Claims can only be backdated in exceptional circumstances and are limited to a maximum of 1 month. It is therefore vital that you claim Universal Credit as soon as you become eligible. Don’t miss out!
From 2019 onwards, the DWP will start to migrate anyone still claiming any of the 6 benefits listed above onto Universal Credit. This will be tested in small parts of the country first. If this applies to you, the Jobcentre will tell you in advance when this is going to happen and what you need to do.
Further information about Universal Credit can be found here.
How can I prepare for Universal Credit?
There are a number of things you need to consider when claiming Universal Credit. It will take around 6 weeks to receive your first payment so it's vital to save money now to see you through this period.
You will also need to have the right bank account, regular access to the internet and be able to manage a monthly budget. Click here for useful tips on how to prepare.
How do I make a claim for Universal Credit?
Click here to make a claim online.
Once you’ve made your claim you will need to make an appointment for your new claim interview at the Jobcentre. If your circumstances mean you don’t need to attend to the Jobcentre, your online account will explain what you need to do instead.
Booking your appointment at the Jobcentre is easy. You will need to phone the Universal Credit service centre. You will be given the phone number when you have made your claim.
Your appointment at the Jobcentre will be in two parts;
- To check your identity
- Meet your Work Coach and complete your claimant commitment
The claimant commitment is tailored around your personal circumstances and is designed following discussions with your Work Coach.
Failing to meet the terms to your claimant commitment, could result in you being sanctioned and losing some or all of your benefits. This may lead to difficulties paying your rent and could lead to you losing your home.
For this reason it is vitally important for you to be honest with your Work Coach about your ability to carry out certain tasks to avoid things you may not be able do being included in your claimant commitment. For example, if you don’t have basic computer skills or have trouble reading and writing, you should let your Work Coach know so that you get the right support to improve these skills.
The Department for Work and Pensions can assist you in many ways to help remove barriers to you working or earning more. This can be wide ranging and can cover anything from assistance to use the internet, help to manage your appointments, improving reading or writing skills to more complex issues such as support tackling drug, alcohol or gambling issues.
Your Work Coach or staff from St Leger Homes can assist you to access:
- Tenancy Support
- Debt and money advice including income maximisation
- Referrals for Alcohol/Gambling/Drug dependencies
- Digital Support
- Employment courses
- Benefit checks to ensure you are receiving the correct income based on your circumstances
- Literacy and numeracy courses
- World of Work Academy
Your Work Coach or staff at St Leger Homes are always looking for ways to help; all you have to do is speak up, be honest and we will help with the rest!
Which benefits will continue to be paid separately?
- Local Council Tax Support (previously Council Tax Benefit) – It is important you make a claim for Council Tax Support straight away, to prevent you falling behind on your Council Tax
- Child Benefit
- Jobseekers Allowance (Contributions Based)
- Employment & Support Allowance (Contributions Based)
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Carer’s Allowance
- Social Fund
- Other benefits not listed above such as Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay & Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
Find out more about Universal Credit at