Universal Credit is a payment which is designed to help people with their general living costs.
Universal Credit is relatively new and has been introduced to replace six benefits offered by the government in one package rather than many. The following are benefits Universal Credit has replaced:
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Working Tax Credit
If you currently receive any of those benefits, you cannot claim Universal Credit at the same time as those. However, since Universal Credit is being introduced in stages, you do not have to do anything until you hear from the Depart for Work and Pensions about moving from any of the above into Universal Credit.
You can see if you are eligible for Universal Credit by clicking here.
With Universal Credit, a payment will be set up and made up of a standard allowance and any extra amounts that apply to you. This includes if you:
- Have children
- Have health condition or a disability which may stop you from working
- Need help in paying your rent
You can use a benefits calculator to see how much you could actually get.
When it comes to Universal Credit, you will be assessed every month and what you are paid may differ month to month depending on your circumstances.
How are you paid?
Universal works in such a way that you will be paid once a month, normally directly into your bank account or a building society or a credit union account.
Your payments will include an amount for your housing, which you should pay directly to your landlord.
If it is not possible for you to open a bank account, building society account or a credit union account, you can call the Universal Credit helpline in order to arrange a different way to get paid through this scheme.
With your first payment, you may be waiting up to 5 weeks so if you are in need of living costs whilst you are waiting for this, you can apply for an advance or a payday loan.
How to claim for Universal Credit
If you are eligible for Universal Credit, the first step is obviously to apply for it. You will need to do this online.
Furthermore, you will need to apply as a couple if you live with your partner. For this, it is not necessary to be married – just cohabitating.
You may also find that you may have to call up the Universal Credit helpline to book an interview with a work coach. You will be told about this after you apply. If you are told to attend this appointment and you do, you will not receive your Universal Credit.
To apply, you will need:
- Your bank, building society or credit union account details. If you do not have these, you can call the Universal Credit helpline for help.
- A valid email address
- Your National Insurance number
- Any information about your housing, such as how much rent you pay
- Details about your income – you may be asked to provide payslips as proof of income
- Details about your savings and any investments you have made, such as shares or a property that you rent out
- Details about how much you pay for childcare if you are applying for help with childcare costs
If you do not provide the correct information when you apply, this may affect your payment date or payment amount.
In addition to all of this, you will have to verify your identity online. You will, therefore, need some proof of identity. This could be in the form of a driving licence, a passport or a debit or credit card.