New to Universal Credit

1. Is it for me?

Who can get Universal Credit

You can apply for Universal Credit if you are on a low income or unemployed.

You will usually only be able to claim Universal Credit if you are aged 18 or over, but some people aged 16 or 17 can get it, depending on their circumstances.

And you usually won’t be able to claim Universal Credit if you’re in full-time education or training, but people with certain circumstances can still apply.

Read the detailed guidance on eligibility and Universal Credit and students to find out more.

You can use a benefits calculator to help you understand what benefits you could get. You will be asked to enter information about your circumstances, and it will tell you which benefits you might be able to apply for. One of those might be Universal Credit.

If you want to go straight to making a claim for Universal Credit visit gov.uk/universal-credit

If you live in Northern Ireland go to Universal Credit in Northern Ireland

What Universal Credit replaces

Universal Credit replaces:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

If you are already claiming these benefits or tax credits you don’t need to do anything now. The Department for Work and Pensions will get in touch with you before there are any changes to your benefits or tax credits.

If you receive these benefits or tax credits and your circumstances change in a way that would have meant you would make a new claim to one of these benefits, you will now need to claim Universal Credit instead.

Please note that when you apply for Universal Credit, this will mean you can no longer receive these benefits or tax credits. However, from 22 July 2020, if you receive income-based JSA, income-related ESA or Income Support you may be eligible for a 2-week run-on payment

If you receive Universal Credit you may have to pay less in Council Tax, but you will need to apply for that separately. You can start the process to apply for Council Tax Reduction on GOV.UK. You can apply for a Council Tax Reduction straight away – you do not need to wait until your claim for Universal Credit has been approved or paid.

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 for 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.

Run-on payments

From 22 July 2020, if you are receiving income-based JSA, income-related ESA or Income Support, and either:

  • choose to claim Universal Credit, or
  • a change in your circumstances means you need to claim Universal Credit instead

you may receive up to an additional 2 weeks’ worth of those payments.

This is a one-time payment and does not have to be paid back.

If you are eligible for it, it will be paid automatically. You do not need to contact DWP to receive it.

It will not affect the amount of Universal Credit you receive.

If your payments of these benefits included any additional payments for partners and/or premiums, these will also be included in the payment. Any deductions from your payments will be applied unless they would have ended during that 2-week period.

If you also receive contribution-based JSA/ESA, this will be included in your additional payment. However, your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by the amount you get from contribution-based JSA/ESA.

If you continue to receive contribution-based JSA/ESA whilst on Universal Credit, this will be converted into New Style JSA/ESA. Your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by the amount you receive from New Style JSA/ESA.

If you or your partner are above State Pension age

You can apply for Universal Credit if you or your partner are below State Pension age

If you’re in a couple where one of you is above State Pension age and the other is below it (this is known as a mixed age couple), you will make a Universal Credit claim as a couple. When both of you reach State Pension age your Universal Credit claim will stop and you may wish to apply for Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit

If you’re in a mixed age couple and are already receiving Pension Credit or Housing Benefit, you will stay on those benefits as long as your circumstances remain the same and there is no break in your claim. If you have a break in your claim or your circumstances change, you may need to make a claim for Universal Credit instead.

Read more about Pension Credit eligibility


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