Coronavirus: Universal Credit and other benefits

Making a new claim

If you have lost your job or are working reduced hours you may be able to claim:

  • Universal Credit
  • New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (New Style JSA)
  • New Style Employment and Support Allowance (New Style ESA)

See below for more information about each of these benefits.

New Style JSA and New Style ESA can be claimed on their own or at the same time as Universal Credit, so it may be a good idea to apply for Universal Credit anyway, particularly if you pay rent or have children to support.

You can use our Benefits Checker tool to get a quick idea of what financial support you may be able to claim. It will ask you a few questions and suggest what help you are most likely to be eligible for. For a more complete understanding of all the support that may be available, and how much you might get, use a benefits calculator. This will take a bit longer to fill in, but will give you a more detailed picture of the help you could receive.

Open the Benefits Checker tool

Universal Credit

You may be eligible for Universal Credit if:

  • you’re on a low income or out of work
  • you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
  • you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
  • you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you, and
  • you live in the UK

Read more about eligibility for Universal Credit. If you’re eligible you can apply for Universal Credit online.

For more information about any aspect of Universal Credit, including how to make a claim, visit Understanding Universal Credit

If you currently receive tax credits

If you currently receive tax credits from HMRC please be aware that if you submit a claim for Universal Credit your tax credit award will end immediately. If your tax credit award ends it cannot be re-opened, and it will not be possible to make a new tax credits claim in the future.

If you are an existing tax credit claimant, this does not mean you will be automatically eligible to receive Universal Credit. If you submit a Universal Credit claim your tax credit award will be closed immediately, even if you are not eligible to claim Universal Credit.

There are some differences between the eligibility criteria for Universal Credit and tax credits, including (but not limited to) your savings and residency status.

If you currently receive tax credits, please check the eligibility criteria for Universal Credit before you submit a Universal Credit claim. If your tax credit award has not ended, you will need to decide whether remaining on tax credits or claiming Universal Credit is better for you, based on your own personal circumstances. You can use a benefits calculator to check your possible entitlement.

New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (New Style JSA)

You may be eligible for New Style JSA if:

  • you’re unemployed or working less than 16 hours a week
  • you have been working as an employee, usually within the last 2 to 3 years, and have paid or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions
  • you do not have an illness or disability that limits your ability to work
  • you’re under State Pension age
  • you’re not in full time education, and
  • you live in the UK

Read more about eligibility for New Style JSA. If you’re eligible you can apply for New Style JSA online.

Your savings and capital (or your partner’s savings, capital and income) are not taken into account when claiming New Style JSA. However, your earnings and any payment you are getting from a pension can affect the amount you may receive.

New-Style JSA can be paid for a maximum of 182 days. If you are also receiving Universal Credit then your Universal Credit payments will continue as long as your other circumstances have not changed. If you are not receiving Universal Credit, you can check your eligibility for Universal Credit to see if you could receive it.

New Style Employment and Support Allowance (New Style ESA)

You may be eligible for New Style ESA if:

  • you are ill or have a health condition or disability that limits your ability to work
  • you are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), or your entitlement to SSP is coming to an end
  • you have been working (either as an employee or self-employed) within the last 2 to 3 years and have paid, or been credited with, enough National Insurance contributions
  • you are 16 or over, and
  • you are under State Pension age

You may also be able to apply for New Style ESA if you’re not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay and one of the following applies:

  • you or your child might have coronavirus or you’re recovering from it
  • you or your child are required to self-isolate because you came into contact with someone who might have coronavirus
  • you have been advised by your doctor or healthcare professional that you are required to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery

Read more about eligibility for New Style ESA

Your (or your partner’s) savings will not affect how much New Style ESA you’re paid. If your partner works, it does not affect your claim. Most income is not taken into account, but a personal pension can affect the amount you may receive.

You can apply for New Style ESA online. If you can’t make an application online, you can apply by calling the Universal Credit helpline

Maternity support

If you are pregnant or have recently had a baby, you may be entitled to other financial support. The Sure Start Maternity Grant (SSMG) is a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child. The SSMG is only available to claimants in England and Wales. In Scotland the Best Start Grant applies.

To get it you must have received health advice from a certified health professional and be claiming certain benefits or tax credits. Read more about eligibility for SSMG.SSMG claims can be made 11 weeks before the child is due or up to 6 months after the child is born.

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