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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 |

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit (UC) 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 (UC) 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 GOV.UK 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.

Freephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Use our free online UC Helper

 

If you're an organisation interested in creating your own version on the UC Helper, see more information here

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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.

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Get ready for Universal Credit

  • Get the right bank account

    Universal Credit is paid monthly into your chosen bank or building society account.

    If you don’t have one you'll 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

  • Applying for Universal Credit for the first time? We've got just the tool to help

    • Applying for UC for the first time can seem overwhelming. Our free UC tool is designed to help and support you.
    • Developed with customers and our frontline staff, the UC Helper explains step by step how to create an online UC account, how to make a claim and how to verify your identity. It even explains what to expect when attending an interview.
    • There’s a checklist to track your progress, plus tips for each stage. It’s mobile-friendly, although it works just as well on a laptop or desktop PC.
  • 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.

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

There is also a budgeting calculator from entitledto.co.uk.

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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.

GOV.UK's page UK residence for EU citizens provides more information.

Questions and answers

 

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