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Understanding Universal Credit

What is Universal Credit? | Video - how to claim | Do I need to claim Universal Credit? | Get ready for Universal Credit | Questions and answers |

Coronavirus update

To see what benefits you qualify for at this time, use our benefits calculator.

Universal Credit (UC) is the most significant change to welfare benefits in recent years. We have a dedicated team of advisers available to help our residents understand UC and the claim process.

MoneyHelper has a useful Money Manager tool that provides tailored information specifically for Universal Credit claimants.

Find out more about Alternative Payment Arrangement and Third Party Payments

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new benefit that replaces the following six benefits:

  • Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

Universal Credit is paid directly to the person claiming benefit and includes housing costs. It is normally paid monthly in arrears. If you receive UC you will normally be responsible for paying your own rent. Find out more about UC on the website.

We’ve created a short video to give you information and advice about how to claim Universal Credit, and where you can go for additional help.

Please note the telephone helpline is now FREE. The numbers have changed to the following: Telephone: 0800 328 9344 Textphone: 0800 328 1344.

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Do I need to claim Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is now available everywhere in Great Britain.

You can claim if you are below Pension Credit age and:

  • You need to claim benefits for the first time
  • You have a change in circumstances that means your existing benefits cannot continue

Don’t forget you still need to claim Council Tax Support if you claim UC.

If you are looking at UC housing costs and you have previously had a Housing Benefit claim, you may be able to reopen your old claim. Please speak to a member of our Income team to check.

Our Welfare Benefits team can also work with you to look at all your options if you can’t claim UC.

Tricia became unemployed and was advised that she needed to claim UC. However, her husband was at state retirement age, so they were entitled to claim Pension Credit. Our welfare benefits adviser contacted the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Partnership Manager for the area and Tricia’s UC claim was cancelled. This meant the couple were able to claim Pension Credit, giving them an additional £133 per week.


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Get ready for Universal Credit

  • Get the right bank account

    Universal Credit is paid monthly into your chosen bank or Post Office account.

    If you don’t have one you will need to open an account. For more information on how to do this visit the Citizens Advice website.

  • Get online

    You will need access to the internet and an email address to apply for and manage your account online.

    Need help getting online? Please visit our Getting online page

    Once online you will need to:

    • Fill out all the fields on your online account
    • Use the online journal to keep notes and records of your actions
    • Keep your work capability assessments up to date
    • Always update your details if your circumstances change
  • Ask for help

    If you are struggling with your UC application, have had sanctions* applied, cannot pay your rent whilst waiting for a claim to be awarded, or would simply like to talk through the process with someone, please contact our Income team

    *A sanction is a reduction of your UC benefit amount. It can vary in length and time.

“It took a while for my back payments to start coming through, but I'm getting on top of it now. Thank you so much for your help! I really don't think anything would have been getting sorted without it!”

Sophie, Hyde resident
  • Pay on time

    If you receive UC, you must inform the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) whenever there is a change in your circumstances. This includes when your rent and service charges change. You must let them know of the change within 14 days to make sure you get the correct payment or you could be left out of pocket.

    Find out more information on Payment on Time.

  • Set up a budget and prioritise your rent

    Your UC payment will be paid to you and you need to make paying your rent your priority.

    Set up a monthly budget now to avoid falling into debt on your rent.

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Guidance for EU citizens

With Brexit and the tightening of Welfare Benefit regulations since 2014, it has become increasingly important for European Union (EU) citizens to ensure they are aware of their status in the UK. EU citizens who have grown up in the UK are often surprised to discover they need to show that they have the permanent right to reside in the UK - and finding the documents to prove this can be difficult.'s page UK residence for EU citizens provides more information.

Questions and answers


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