What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a benefit that was first launched in 2013, it replaces six of the older style benefits; child tax credits, working tax credits, income support, income-based Jobseekers Allowance and income-based Employment and Support Allowance.

It is a benefit for working-age people and you can be in or out of work in order to receive it. How much you receive depends on your individual circumstances, including what other income you receive, if any.

Would I be better off on Universal Credit?

There are a number of people who may benefit by moving onto Universal Credit.

You can check what your entitlement to Universal Credit would be using this online benefits calculator: Benefits Calculator - entitled to - independent | accurate | reliable. If you need help with checking your benefit entitlements, speak to your local advice centre or Citizens Advice Bureau, you can check where your nearest one is here: Turn2Us - AdviceFinder.

As well as checking your UC entitlement, you may also wish to consider the following before moving to Universal Credit:

  • Payments are made as 1 monthly amount; you will be responsible for paying your monthly bills (including your rent) out of this monthly figure.
  • When you claim Universal Credit, your older style benefits will stop and there is a wait time of 5 weeks before you receive your first UC payment, so you may want to think about the timing of your claim to make sure you can manage during these 5 weeks.
  • If you have been overpaid benefits in the past, then repayments will be deducted from your overall UC award going forward.
  • Work search requirements are more intensive than on older style Jobseekers Allowance.
  • Your UC claim is managed online, so once you claim, you will need to make sure you log into your UC account regularly to check for updates and for messages from your case manager.

I need to claim Universal Credit, how do I do this? Universal Credit claims are completed online, you can start your claim here: Universal Credit online - Universal Credit (universal-credit.service.gov.uk). If you know you will struggle to manage your claim via an online account, you can claim by phone on 0800 328 5644.

The government has produced some guidance videos on claiming UC, available here: Understanding Universal Credit - How to claim

If you need to claim and you need support with doing so, Citizens Advice has a Help to Claim service. Their helpline number is 0800 144 8444 and further information on the service can be found here: Contact us about applying for Universal Credit - Citizens Advice

Will I be asked to move on to Universal Credit?

The government plans to move everyone who currently receives old-style benefits onto Universal Credit by the end of 2028/29. The Department of Work and Pensions are still testing out the process on small numbers, but their intention is to move people over in phases, based on the benefits they currently receive:

Type of claimant Deadline
Tax Credits ONLY End of 2023/2024

JSA, Income Support, Housing Benefit and tax credits

End of 2024/2025
ESA ONLY, and ESA and Housing Benefit End of 2028/2029

At this present time, you don’t need to do anything until the DWP invites you to claim UC unless you want or need to claim (e.g. you have had a change in circumstances that would mean a new claim for benefits like losing your job, or if you have checked your entitlements and believe you would be better off on UC)

Preparing for the move to Universal Credit

There are a few things you can do now so that you are fully prepared once your invite to claim UC arrives:

  • Check your benefit entitlements now - Benefits Calculator - entitled to - independent | accurate | reliable
  • Make sure your current benefits are up to date- report any changes in circumstances to avoid overpayments or underpayments.
  • Set up a bank account if you don’t already have one.
  • If you live in one of our general needs or supported housing properties, let your Housing Officer at NHG know if you will need support when you are invited to claim

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