Information on Universal Credit, a new benefit for people on a low income who are below pension age.
About Universal Credit
From 8 February, Universal Credit replaced the following benefits:
- Income support (IS)
- Income-based jobseeker's allowance (JSAIB)
- Income-related employment support allowance (ESAIR)
- Housing benefit (HB)
- Working tax credit (WTC)
- Budgeting loans (BL)
This affects new benefit claimants or if you have a change in circumstances. Currently, it will only apply if you are on a low income, an unemployed jobseeker, below pension age and single with no children. Universal Credit will be extended to other claimants over the next three years.
Claim Universal Credit
You will need to make a claim from The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP):
If you have had a change of circumstances so that you need to re-apply for benefits / tax credits, you may also have to apply for Universal Credit.
If you are unsure if you need to claim for Universal Credit, please contact us using the details on this page.
Who is able to claim Universal Credit
There are a number of conditions that must be satisfied to be able to claim Universal Credit. Please see the Universal Credit - frequently asked questions [201kb] guide for further information. Please also see the other guides on this page that may answer any questions you may have.
How Universal Credit is paid
Universal Credit covers daily living costs and housing costs. It is paid monthly in arrears, on the same day each month, based on the date of your claim.
In most cases, it is paid direct into a bank account and you may want to consider setting up direct debits to pay your regular bills.
You can find advice on this on the Money Advice Service on Universal Credit and other benefits.
Existing benefit claimants and Universal Credit
The Department for Work and Pensions is planning to move existing claimants to Universal Credit between 2016 and 2019.
However, if you have a change of circumstances that would mean you have to re-apply for a different or existing benefit/tax credit, you may have to apply for Universal Credit at this point.
Claiming Universal Credit if you work
There is no limit to the number of hours you can work. However, the amount you earn may affect the amount of Universal Credit you can get.
How much Universal Credit will you get
How much Universal Credit you get will depend on your circumstances. You can get an idea of what help you might receive on the Turn 2 Us website about Universal Credit.
Help you can get with housing costs
If you pay rent or have a mortgage, a housing costs element is included in Universal Credit.
If you are an owner-occupier, you may get support for mortgage interest as well as certain service charges. There is a waiting period of three months before you can claim this.
If you are a private tenant paying rent, your housing cost element will depend on the number of rooms you need, which is the same as the current housing benefit scheme.
Housing costs are no longer paid direct to landlords apart from in exceptional circumstances, or if you are living in certain types of accommodation where your landlord provides care and support. In these cases, we may continue to deal with any claim for help with these.
Universal Credit and savings
Capital under £6,000 is not taken into account, but if you have more than £16,000 you will not be able to get Universal Credit.
If you have capital of between £6,000 - £15,999, the Department for Work and Pensions will treat this as giving you a tariff income of £1 a week for every £250 (or part of) you have between these amount. This is exactly the same as the current housing benefit scheme rules.