Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a benefit to help with rent and living costs if you are of working age and on a low income, not working or you are unable to get work.

Should I claim Universal Credit or housing benefit?

We know that benefits can sometimes be confusing. If you are not sure whether you should apply for Universal Credit or for housing benefit, simply answer these questions and we will guide you.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. It replaces the following benefits:

  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Child Tax Credits.

If you are eligible, do not delay in claiming Universal Credit as claims are not normally backdated.

Please note: the Department for Work and Pensions are gradually moving working age people who are receiving the benefits listed above onto Universal Credit. If you currently receive one or more of the benefits listed above and you submit a claim for Universal Credit, or report a change in your circumstances, your entitlement to the ‘old’ benefit may stop and Universal Credit may be awarded instead.

How much will I get?

Use our online benefit calculator to get an estimate of the amount of benefits you may be entitled to.

To get an accurate estimate of your entitlement you will need details of your earnings, capital and any benefits you currently receive.

Calculate your entitlement online

How and when will I get paid?

Universal Credit is paid once a month in arrears into a nominated bank account.

If you are facing short-term financial need you can apply for an interest-free advance payment which is repayable over 12 months. You can apply online through your journal, or call the Department for Work and Pensions on their freephone telephone numbers Monday to Friday, 8am until 6pm.

Telephone: 0800 3285644

Textphone: 0800 3281344

You can find free help and advice about budgeting and spending on our Budgeting and debt advice page. This is particularly useful if you are not used to being paid monthly.

How do I make a claim for Universal Credit?

To make a claim for Universal Credit you need to complete an online application form:

Before you start

If you’re inactive for more than 20 minutes your session will time out and you’ll have to start again. Make sure you have the following information before you start:

  • your postcode
  • your National Insurance number
  • details of the bank, building society or credit union account you want Universal Credit paid into
  • your rent agreement (if you have one)
  • details of your savings or other capital
  • details of any income that’s not from work, such as, from an insurance plan
  • details of any other benefits you’re getting.

You might also need these details for people who live in your home, such as your partner. It should take 20 to 40 minutes to complete your claim. Do not delay making your claim for Universal Credit as claims are not normally backdated.

If you’re successful, you’ll usually get your first payment 5 weeks after you made your claim.

Apply to make a claim for Universal Credit

If you pay council tax and did not indicate that you wanted to make a claim for Local Council Tax Reduction on your Universal Credit application you need to make a separate claim for council tax support.

Who can I contact for help making my online application?

If you need help to claim Universal Credit, you can get assistance from Citizen’s Advice multi-channel access. Visit citizensadvice.org.uk for further information.

Universal Credit hotline

Please contact the Universal Credit helpline if you need help making your claim online:

Telephone: 0800 3285644

Textphone: 0800 3281344

The telephone lines are open from Monday to Friday, 8am until 6pm.

If you do not have access to the internet at home, you can attend your local Jobcentre Plus office.

Search for your nearest Jobcentre Plus office on the Department for Work & Pensions website.

You can also use free WIFI at some of our locations:

Find free WIFI locations.

Where can I find information about debt, budgeting or other financial help?

Our money advice page can help you with the following:

  • An online budgeting tool to help you create your own personal budget plan
  • Access to our welfare visiting team who can offer information and advice about debt and budgeting
  • Links to other organisations who can help with managing debt.

Visit the money advice page

Free impartial debt advice

There are also a number of independent organisations who can provide useful advice and information for people who are experiencing financial problems.

Take a look at organisations that can offer financial and debt advice.

I am having financial difficulties, can you help me in any other way?

Check if you can receive a reduction

If you are on a low income you may be able to claim a council tax support. This is a means-tested reduction on your council tax bill. How much support you will receive will depend on your income and circumstances:

  • Working-age residents can receive a maximum of 75% support towards their council tax bill
  • State pension age residents can receive a maximum of 100% support towards their council tax bill.

Alternatively, you may make an application for one of our discretionary schemes to reduce your rent or council tax.

Anyone who needs further help with housing costs, and is currently claiming housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit can claim a discretionary housing payment. Anyone who needs further help with Council Tax can claim a discretionary discount as there are no set conditions for awarding this reduction, we will individually consider any applications.

To apply for a discretionary scheme, we will need a range of information from you to make a decision including the following:

  • Why you are unable to pay your rent or council tax
  • Household income and expenditure.

Can I request a hold on recovery action and additional fees?

Read about the new, statutory scheme called ‘Breathing Space’ which is designed to provide people with debt problems the right to legal protection from creditors for a limited period of time.

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