Universal Credit

What Is Universal Credit (UC)?

Universal Credit is for people of working age. It is designed to top up your income to a minimum level and help you with your housing costs (rent and some service charges). Universal Credit is for people on a low to moderate income. It does not matter whether you are working or not, or the reason why you are not working.

Families with more than 2 children do not have to claim UC at this time.

Universal Credit is Replacing:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

When is Universal Credit Being Introduced?

Universal Credit is already here.

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

Whether you will need to claim Universal Credit instead of the benefits it replaces will depend on your circumstances. The DWP refer to this as the Universal Credit live service, but you may hear people call it the non-digital service.

Stage 2 has started - The digital Universal Credit service is being introduced gradually – it began in May 2016 and will continue until December 2018.

Once your area has the digital service, a change in your circumstances means you may need to make a new claim for Universal Credit.

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

To find out when your area will get the full digital service, please use our UC Postcode Checker.

What's The Difference?

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 all the benefits are being paid together, including help with your housing costs (rent, mortgage, interest and some service charges).

If you are a couple you both have to complete the claim process. If you would like more information please get in touch with us on 0300 304 5000 or welfare@estuary.co.uk

WARNING: Universal Credit DOES NOT include help with your Council Tax.

WARNING: Universal Credit DOES NOT include help with your Council Tax.

You must claim Council Tax Support separately from your local council.

How Can I Prepare for Universal Credit?

To prepare for Universal Credit think about:

  • How you would manage to make a claim online, or how you could access online services (such as through a friend, relative or even a public library) if you don’t have your own internet access
  • Where you can go to build up your computer skills if you’ve never been online before.
  • How you will manage with monthly payments.
  • 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 4 weeks after your claim).
  • How you will manage when you have to pay your rent to your landlord yourself.
  • Asking for an advance of UC
  • 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). 

If you would like to talk through some of these issues, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Call us on 0300 304 5000 or email welfare@estuary.co.uk

How Do I Claim Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is claimed online via www.gov.uk. If you need help you can ring the helpline Telephone: 0800 328 9344 - calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

If you don’t have access to the internet at home, contact us on 0300 304 5000 to find out where you can go online. Please note in some places where you can use a computer, there might not be anyone available to help you with the claim.

Make Sure You Have The Following Information With You When You Claim:

  • Your (and any partner’s) National Insurance number
  • Details of anyone who lives with you - their name, date of birth, age and income
  • Your postcode
  • Account details of where you would like payments to be made - account number and sort code
  • Your email address[es]
  • The total amount of any savings you have
  • Your landline / mobile phone number
  • If you / your partner are working, details of your wage[s]
  • Your landlord's name and address (contact us if not sure on 0300 304 5000)
  • Details of any other income, including benefits.
  • Your eligible rent (ask for a breakdown)
  • Proof of ID
  • IMPORTANT: The online claim form asks "Do you pay rent?" This means "Are you liable to pay rent?" - the answer will always be YES if you / your partner have a tenancy, even if you have not actually been paying us any rent because you’ve been getting Housing Benefit.
  • The form also asks you how much rent you pay. This is the full "eligible rent"– not the shortfall you may been paying if you get Housing Benefit. Ask us if you’re not sure what this is - 0300 304 5000.
  • WARNING: If you answer these questions incorrectly, then you might not get all (or any) of the help with your rent included in your Universal Credit award.
  • Many of the online claim questions have a box next to them saying "What does this mean?" It’s a good idea to click on these even if you think you know what the question means, just to be certain.

If you need any help, ring the helpline number 0800 328 9344 or ask us for assistance. You can call us on 0300 304 5000 or email welfare@estuary.co.uk

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to some commonly asked questions about Universal Credit can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions section.