What is Universal Credit (UC)?

Universal Credit is a new benefit to support you if you’re working and on a low income or you’re out of work.

It is a single monthly payment and replaces 6 benefits:- 

  • Housing benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Income support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages across the UK. You do not need to do anything until you hear from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about moving to Universal Credit, unless you have a change in circumstances.  Take a look at the roll out timetable below to find out when Full Service will be available in your borough

Local Authority Area

Revised date for roll out of Full Service

Wokingham

December 2017

Slough

April 2018

South Bucks

April 2018

RBWM

May 2018

Basingstoke & Deane

May 2018

Aylesbury Vale

September 2018

Wycombe

September 2018

If you live with someone as a couple and you are both entitled to claim UC, you will get one monthly joint payment paid into a single bank account. 

There are no limits on how many hours a week you can work if you’re claiming UC. Instead, the amount you get will gradually reduce as you earn more, so you won’t lose all your benefits at once.

From late 2019 it is expected that 'migration' will start i.e where it's not just new claimants that can get Universal Credit - but existing 'legacy' benefit claimants get moved onto Universal Credit by the DWP.  Full 'roll-out' is expected to have been achieved during 2024.

Making the application

All new claimants must make their application for Universal Credit online, which means that digital is the primary channel for most working-age people to interact with the Department. The Digital system is mobile friendly - so works easily on smart phones and tablets.  We have created a helpful step by step guide here 

  • When you first make a claim for Universal Credit, you will have to create an account by creating a username and password and two security questions. You must have an email address so if you don't have one you will have to create one. 
  • After entering your details, confirming they are correct and clicking 'submit' the claimant is asked to verify their identity through gov.uk.
  • Once you apply, you must contact your local Jobcentre Plus within 7 days to make an appointment with a work coach. You will NOT receive Universal Credit if you do not attend the appointment. 

Via a single account under the 'Full service' customers are able to:   

  • Make a claim
  • Check details of payments
  • Notify changes of circumstance and 
  • Search for a job 

Please see our help notes here

Claimant commitment

Everyone who applies for Universal Credit will make an agreement called a ‘Claimant Commitment’ with their Work Coach and be placed in a conditionality group based on their circumstances and work capability. The group you are in will determine what is expected of you during your claim such as writing a CV, attending a training course or looking for a job.  Some people will not have to undertake any of these. Where it is a couple claiming Universal Credit each of you will have to have your own separate claimant commitment.

The claimant (and joint claimant i.e partner) have to agree to these conditions at the beginning of your claim. Failure to comply with the work-related activities linked to their claim will result in a sanction.

Savings & capital

Any capital or savings you or your partner have under £6,000 is ignored when working out your Universal Credit payment.  If you or your partner has any savings or capital of £16,000 or over, you will not be entitled to Universal Credit.

Change of circumstances (COC)

If you have a change in circumstances that would involve a claim for another ‘legacy benefit’ they you will be told you have to claim ‘full service’ UC and your ‘legacy benefit(s)’ will stop.

Some examples of a COC include:- 

Move from out of work in to work

Move from in work to out of work

Move from out of work to sick

Move from sick to out of work

Household becomes responsible for a child for the 1st time

Claimants separate

Income Support lone parent, child under 5 reaches age 5

House Benefit claimant moves from a non UC Full Service Local Authority (LA) area into a UC Full Service LA area

Payments of UC

UC is paid monthly in arrears usually into your bank, building society or credit union account. The amount awarded will depend on the income and circumstances of all the household members.

It usually takes 5 to 6 weeks for a new claim to be assessed and your first payment to arrive. You can ask for an advance of your Universal Credit payment if you will face financial hardship while you wait for your claim to be processed.  You will need to pay back your advance a bit at a time from your future Universal Credit payments. Please click here to learn more about advance payments. 

After the first payment, you’ll be paid on the same date of every month. If your payment date is on a Bank holiday or weekend you’ll be paid on the working day before. You’ll get a monthly statement that tells you how much Universal Credit you’re going to get.

DWP expects claimants to be responsible for budgeting their finances accordingly, although they do have some flexibility to alter payments in exceptional circumstances and claimant should discuss this with their Work Coach.

How Housing Solutions can help

Our Welfare and Support Team can assist you with this new benefit and any questions you may have please complete the form below and we will contact you to set up an appointment to discuss your options.

Please contact me