Understanding Universal Credit

Could I apply for Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is for people who are on a low income, out of work or can’t work at the moment. Watch this short video to see if you could claim it:

Universal Credit replaces 6 benefits and tax credits: Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. Find out who can get Universal Credit

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

Read the eligibility guidance for full details of who can apply for Universal Credit.

You could even receive financial help from Universal Credit when you’re working. Your Universal Credit payment could change as your earnings go up and down, but the more you earn, the higher your total income will be.

What help could I get?

The amount of Universal Credit you could get depends on your circumstances, including who else lives with you. Watch this video to find out more:

Your Universal Credit payments could include additional amounts. The payment will take into account:

  • Housing
  • A disability or health condition
  • Children and childcare, including looking after a disabled child
  • Being a carer for a severely disabled person
  • Other people who live with you

The amount you get in your first Universal Credit payment will depend on your situation during the first month of your claim. You will usually receive your first payment 5 weeks from the day you apply. Find out more about how and when you’ll be paid

If you need money before your first payment you could apply for a repayable advance. You will need to pay this back from future Universal Credit payments, usually over a 12-month period.

What will I be asked to do?

If you’re able to work you will usually get a work coach who will talk to you to find out what kind of help will be of most use to you.

They will support you in achieving your job goals. That could be helping you to find vacancies or understand how to move forward with a new career, or could involve directing you towards training opportunities. The help you are offered will be tailored to your needs.

If you have a disability or health condition that prevents you from working, or limits the amount of work you can do, you could still get financial support. And if you can prepare for work with the aim of working at some time in the future, your work coach will support you in that. You won’t be asked to do anything you can’t do.

How do I claim Universal Credit?

Most people are able to apply for Universal Credit online, and you can find more information on this website to help you through the application, including videos to guide you through the whole process.

You can also get extra help to make sure you can apply for Universal Credit.

Help to Claim is support provided by Citizens Advice. It can help you to make your online application. Your local jobcentre can also help, and advise you about support available through other local organisations.

If you can’t use digital services at all, perhaps because of your circumstances, you can contact the Universal Credit helpline

What if I need money straight away?

If you have made a Universal Credit claim but are unable to manage until your first payment, you may be able to get a Universal Credit advance

The amount you can borrow will be up to your first estimated Universal Credit monthly payment.

You will need to pay back your advance a bit at a time from your future Universal Credit payments. You will usually pay your advance back over a 12-month period.

How do I manage my claim?

Once you have claimed Universal Credit, you can manage your claim through your online account. Here you can:

  • keep a record of the things you’ve done to prepare or look for work
  • send messages to your work coach and read messages they send you
  • report a change of circumstances
  • record childcare costs
  • provide details about a health condition or disability
  • see how much your Universal Credit payments are
  • check what you have agreed to do in your Claimant Commitment