What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit (UC) is a new benefit for working age people on a low income or out of work. 

It is being introduced gradually as part of the government’s welfare reform and will replace six ‘means tested’ benefits (legacy benefits):

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seekers
  • Income-based Employment Support Allowances
  • Working Tax Credit.

If you currently receive any of these benefits, you can’t claim Universal Credit at the same time. It’s being introduced in stages and the Department for Work and Pensions will let you know when you’ll be moving to Universal Credit.

What happens when a Universal Credit live service area changes to a full service area?

If you are already getting Universal Credit in a live service area you will eventually move to the full service. The DWP will notify you when this will happen and what you need to do at that time. 

You will receive a call to action letter from the DWP inviting you to attend an appointment to make an online transfer claim, the letter will also mention what documents you need to bring.  Your work coach will support you through this process. It is important that you attend this interview to prevent your claim and payments being suspended.

The way you manage your claim will also change.  As a Universal Credit live service claimant you can manage your claim over the phone, once you move over to full service you will need to manage your claim online. You will be able to use your online account to report changes, send messages to your work coach and find support.

What's different about Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is paid differently from any benefits or tax credits you may get now:

  • It is a single monthly payment
  • It is paid directly into your bank or building society account
  • It includes help towards paying your rent
  • You need to claim Universal Credit online.

As Housing Benefit is one of the benefits that Universal Credit replaces, if you claim Universal Credit your Housing Benefit claim will usually end. You will need to provide details of your rent when you make your claim for Universal Credit.

From 1 April 2017, some 18 to 21 year olds claiming Universal Credit will not be entitled to help with housing costs.  This will only apply in Universal Credit full service areas. Certain exemptions apply.

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