Universal Credit is a new type of benefit for people looking for work or who have a low income.
What is it?
Universal Credit is a new type of benefit for people looking for work or who have low income.
Universal Credit is being introduced in stages and replaces the following benefits:
- Housing Benefit
- Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income Support
- Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Child and Working Tax Credits
How do I claim?
Claims for Universal Credit have to be made online. To claim, click here. Claims can be made on a computer, laptop, tablet or even a smartphone.
What will I need to claim?
- Access to the Internet through a computer, laptop, tablet or even a smartphone – if you do not have access and/or are not sure how to use the Internet:
- You can attend your local Job Centre to make a claim (click here to find out where you local office is
- Most libraries allow some free Internet access (they may not be able to support you with the claim form)
- We have a free to use computer in our reception
- Our Welfare Benefit Advisers could visit you to help you claim, or you could come into our reception to use our computer or access our free WiFi
- A valid email address – many email providers provide free accounts, we recommend you search online. If you have difficulty with this, get in touch with our Digital Inclusion Officer or a Welfare Benefit Advisor could help you while making the claim.
- Bank account, credit union account, or post-office card account.
- If you do not have an account, click here for advice on choosing and opening one.
- Details for your claim, which could include (for you and your partner if you have one):
- Your national insurance number(s)
- Details of your housing, including your address, type of accommodation, how much it costs, and who your landlord is and how to contact them
- Details about your income, such as earnings, self-employment and other benefits you claim and any other income
- Details of your savings and investments
- Child Benefit reference numbers
- Childcare costs – how much and who your provider is
- Details of your ID – especially if you choose to verify your ID online as part of the claim
- Bank account details so they know how to pay you
What will happen next?
- Once you complete your claim, you will be expected to make an appointment at your local Jobcentre. If you fail to make and attend the appointment your claim may be closed.
- At the appointment you (and your partner) will be expected to sign a claimant commitment, setting out what you agree to do in order to receive the benefit.
- This could range from searching for work full-time, to nothing, depending on your circumstances.
- It is important you are clear to the ‘work coach’ about your abilities and responsibilities so you are not set unrealistic expectations
- If you do not meet the expectations placed upon you, your Universal Credit could be reduced or stopped.
What is included in a Universal Credit payment?
A Universal Credit award can include any of the following that apply to you:
- Basic money for you (and your partner if you have one)
- Money for children
- Extra money for children if they are disabled
- Extra money for your or your partner if you are unable to work
- Money to help with childcare costs
- Help with housing costs which will be paid directly to you
How is Universal Credit paid?
Universal Credit is paid differently to other benefits, which will affect the way you manage your money.
- Universal Credit is paid monthly
- Most claimants have to serve 7 ‘waiting days’* at the start of their claim, for which they are not entitled to any money.
- The first payment is not made until a month and a week after the end of the 7 waiting days, i.e. it could be over 6 weeks before you get a payment
- After your first payment, your future payments will be paid on that date of the month every month
- If you feel unable to wait for your first payment, you can ask for an advance of Universal Credit by talking to your work coach or by calling 0345 600 4272. Note: this is a loan that you have to pay back within 6 months.
- Help to pay for rent (the equivalent of Housing Benefit) will be paid directly to you as part of your monthly Universal Credit payment. It will not be paid directly to us so it will be your responsibility to pay the whole rent from your benefit
*7 waiting days should not apply if:
- You were recently claiming another benefit or tax credit
- You are terminally ill
- You are a recent victim of Domestic Violence
- You have recently left care
- You are under 18
- You were in a prisoner in the last month
Who will be affected?
Whether you can claim depends on where you live and what your circumstances are.
If your address has a postcode beginning with MK40, MK41, MK42, MK43, MK44 or MK45 who need to make a NEW claim for any of the benefits listed at the top of the page will have to claim Universal Credit instead. This affects the following towns and villages where our customers live:
If you live elsewhere you will still have to apply for Universal Credit under the LIVE service if you are single, have no responsibility for children, are fit for work and claiming because you are looking for work. This only applies until 31 December 2017.
From 1 January 2018 you will only be able to claim Universal Credit if you live in the areas above, otherwise you can claim the previous benefits Universal Credit replaces. The government plans to include places linked to the following Jobcentres at the dates stated (subject to change):
- Luton: October 2018
- Biggleswade: November 2018
- Milton Keynes: December 2018
Note that families with three or more children who would otherwise need to claim Universal Credit will not be able to do so until at least February 2019 now (previously it was up to November 2018). These families will need to claim existing benefits instead (e.g. Tax Credits, Housing Benefit, JSA, Income Support or ESA).
People who already claim the benefits listed at the top of the page will not need to claim Universal Credit unless their circumstances change. However, the government plans to move people claiming those benefits over to Universal Credit at a later date.
For further advice on this please contact our Customer Services Team on 0300 123 5544 and ask for our Benefits Advice team or by emailing email@example.com.
How can I get ready?
For advice about opening a bank account, click here.
For help to get online and learn how to use computers, contact our Digital Inclusion Officer on 01525 844557 or 0771 773 1615.
For help to work out how to manage your money on Universal Credit, you could try the Money Advice Service’s Money Manager tool. You could also try their Budget Planner and take a look at their guide for paying rent on Universal Credit. See below for the Money Advice Service’s useful video about preparing for Universal Credit:
How do I contact Universal Credit?
The DWP has introduced Freephone numbers for Universal Credit:
LIVE: 0800 328 9344 (if you are notified by post about your claim)
FULL: 0800 328 5644 (if you have an online Universal Credit account)
How can we help?
We can help you with:
- Confirming whether you should be able to claim
- Making a claim online for Universal Credit and assisting with any future queries
- Checking your claim is paying the correct amount
- Checking whether you are entitled to any other benefits and helping you make a claim
- Setting up a direct debit to pay your rent
- Setting out a personal budget plan
- Managing your debts through out Money Advice Service
Please contact our Benefits Advice teams for further advice and support
Get ready for Universal Credit – Money Advice Service
How to make a claim and use your online Universal Credit account
Things to know:
- UC is replacing 6 other common benefits
- A claim for UC will stop any payments for the benefits it replaces
- You will have to wait around 5/6 weeks for your first payment
- UC is paid in one lump sum per month
- Help with rent is included as part of UC – so you are responsible for paying your rent yourself
- You need access to the Internet and a valid email address to make and manage your claim
- You need a bank account to receive payments
A Credit Union account can help you to manage your household budget if you think you will struggle to manage monthly payments, including your rent.
We have links with Bedford Credit Union. For more information see our Credit Union page.