Universal Credit

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What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is replacing these benefits:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

IMPORTANT: Universal Credit does not include help with your Council Tax. You must claim Council Tax Support separately, from your local council.

Universal Credit is paid in one lump sum and on a monthly basis, and includes help to pay your rent. This help isn’t paid separately, like Housing Benefit. And usually all the Universal Credit is paid straight to you, so you have to pay your rent out of this money.

Most people will get the same amount of money as they would have under the benefits listed above – it just looks like more because of the benefits all being paid together, including help with your housing costs (rent, mortgage interest and some service charges) and is paid monthly, all at once.


When is Universal Credit being introduced?

Universal Credit is being rolled out in 3 stages

Stage 1 is complete – Universal Credit is now available in all areas of Great Britain – but only for certain people.

The DWP refer to this as the Universal Credit ‘live’ service but you may hear people call it the ‘non-digital’ service.

Stage 2 is complete – The ‘digital’ Universal Credit service was introduced gradually between May 2016 and September 2018.

This means that if a change in your circumstances means you need to make a new claim for any of the benefits which are being replaced by Universal Credit – you will make a claim for Universal Credit instead (unless you have 3 or more children).

Stage 3 If you are of working age and still getting any of the benefits which are being replaced by Universal Credit then, at some point between 2019 and 2022 you will be asked to make a claim for Universal Credit instead. The DWP calls this stage ‘migration’.

Now that my area is ‘digital’ will I have to claim Universal Credit straight away?

You will only need to claim Universal Credit if a change in your circumstances means you would normally need to make a new claim for any of the benefits which are being replaced by Universal Credit.

How can I prepare for Universal Credit?

To prepare for Universal Credit think about:

  • How you would manage to make a claim online? Where you can go if you don’t have your own computer? Libraries, internet cafes and our home and community hubs may have computers you can use.
  • Where you can go to build up your computer skills if you’ve never been online before? We often run IT literacy classes. Contact us to find out more.
  • Setting up an email address – you will need to have one to be able to claim Universal Credit.
  • How you will manage when the benefits that Universal Credit is replacing are paid to you as one payment on a monthly basis?
  • How you will manage until you have received your first monthly payment (it will probably be a longer gap between payments than you have been used to – and the first payment will be one month and 7 days after your claim).
  • How you will manage when you have to pay your rent to your landlord yourself.
  • Opening a bank or credit union account. “Basic” bank accounts don’t allow you to overdraw but still charge for unmet direct debits (if there’s not enough money in the account when they come out).


2019/2020 53 rent week year

Please note that due to the way the financial calendar falls between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020, there are 53 Mondays during this financial year and therefore 53 rent weeks. This happens once every five or six years.

Universal credit does not take this into account and calculates the housing cost element of your Universal Credit payment over 52 weeks, meaning that there is potential for a shortfall in the amount you are paid for housing.

As such, we are encouraging all tenants on Universal Credit to pay a little extra if they can in order to cover the shortfall.

Money Manager tool for Universal Credit claimants

The Money Manager tool from the Money Advice Service is designed to help anyone who has made the switch to Universal Credit to manage their finances and budget for monthly payments. Follow the instructions below to get started.

More information

For more information on all things Universal Credit please visit https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/

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