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Universal Credit

Universal Credit is the means-tested benefit that replaces six in-work and out of work benefits.

This video explains more

Currently anyone making a new benefits claim or reporting a change of circumstances, for example, a change in employment, will move to Universal Credit. Eventually existing benefits claimants will also move to Universal Credit. Universal Credit replaces six in work and out of work benefits:

• Income Support

• Child Tax Credit

• Working Tax Credit

• Housing Benefit

• Income Based ESA

• Income Based JSA Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will continue to be paid along with Universal Credit payments.

Universal Credit does not replace contribution-based JSA & ESA.

Changes to Universal Credit involve the way the benefits are claimed and paid. It is helpful for potential claimants to understand these in advance so that they can prepare.

1. Online applications only: Claims are digital by default requiring applicants to set up an online account. The site is only in English and a claim is only ‘live’ once submitted. In exceptional cases a phone application maybe possible.

2. A bank, building society or credit union account: Claimants will need an account that is not overdrawn and may need to open a new account to have their payments paid into. If necessary, this can be a basic bank account or a Post Office card account. There is also the option for the first payment to go into a third party’s account (usually one payment only), to give more time to setup a new account.

3. Budgeting monthly: Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears meaning claimants won’t get their money straight away and may need to consider an Advance Payment

4. Paying your rent to your landlord: As Universal Credit includes housing support the recipient is responsible for paying their landlord. People moving from Housing Benefit onto Universal Credit will get 2 weeks’ further rent payments after they claim, paid to them or their landlord. In exceptional circumstances DWP may consider Alternative Payment Arrangements. Claimants can request an Alternative Payment Arrangement at any point during a Universal Credit claim if they can show that the standard arrangement carries a risk of financial harm to them and/or their family.

There are three options that APAs can offer:

  • Managed Payment: Paying the housing element of Universal Credit directly to a landlord.
  • Changing the payments so that they are more frequent (usually twice a month)
  • Split Payments: Arranging for some of the money to go to each partner

5. One monthly joint payment: Partners who live together and are both eligible for Universal Credit have to make a joint application but will have separate interviews. They will receive just one payment and may need to set up a joint bank account. If they have children they will have to nominate the lead carer who will receive the payment.

Applying for Universal Credit - step-by-step 1.

1. Register for an account online:


2. Complete online application and remember to SUBMIT it so that your claim is registered

3. Contact your local Jobcentre Plus within 7 days to make an appointment with a work coach

4. Attend an interview with a work coach at Jobcentre Plus. This is sometimes called a ‘work search interview’ or ‘claimant commitment interview’. You can bring someone along to the interview - just let the Jobcentre know in advance.

5. Meet regularly with your work coach who will support you as you look for work.

Citizens Advice ‘Help to Claim’ is still available via 0800 144 8 444 and online - https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/help-to-claim/

    Information for people already on Universal Credit

    • Please can Universal Credit customers make contact via journal messages via your online account
    • If you need to call, try to use the phone registered to your Universal Credit account. This will make sure you are directed to the correct place. If you have changed your number, please update it on your journal
    • The Job Centre are phoning people and this may come up as a private or withheld number, but it is important to answer the call.

    Are You Ready leaflet a simple guide to the changes, which you can download and post on your Church notice board.