Benefits and support

Universal Credit

Universal Credit (UC) is a benefit for working age people to help with your living costs if you are on a low income or out of work.

It is paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), not the council, and replaces these existing benefits and credits into a single monthly payment:

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

If you are on an existing benefit the DWP will tell you when you need to transfer to Universal Credit.

Can I claim?

You can get Universal Credit if:

  • you are claiming benefits for the first time
  • you have a change of circumstances that affects your current benefits

However, if you live in supported accommodation or are of Pension Credit age, you should claim existing benefits.

If you make a claim for Universal Credit which includes housing costs you do not need to claim Council Tax Support as we will receive a notification directly from the DWP. However, if after 4 weeks you have not received an amended Council Tax bill which includes Council Tax Support you will need to apply for Council Tax Support.

Remember to claim free school meals separately, as these are not included in Universal Credit payments.

Things you need to do before you apply

Universal Credit is an online service so you will need access to a computer and the internet. You can access computers at your local library.

You’ll also need to:

Find out how ready you are before you make a claim.

You can get help with any of the above at your local Jobcentre Plus and Citizens Advice.

Take a look at the Citizens Advice guide to Universal Credit.

How to apply

  • National Insurance number
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Your address
  • Your landlord’s address
  • Your tenancy agreement (if you have one)
  • Your monthly rent
  • Your bank account details
  • Details of any income or benefits you get
  • Details of any savings or other income or salary

Apply online via the UC portal

If you have learning difficulties or are disabled you can call the Universal Credit Service Centre on 0800 328 5644 to arrange a supported online claim.

What happens next?

You’ll need to arrange an assessment interview at your local Jobcentre within seven days of applying online. You will be told how to do this when you submit your application.

When will I be paid?

It can take up to six weeks for your first payment to reach your account. If you find it difficult to manage this new monthly payment please speak to your work coach.

If you don’t have enough money to live on whilst you wait for your first payment, you can log into your account and request an advance payment.

If this is not your first payment you will need to call the helpline to request an advance.

The advance can be up to the same amount you would get for your first payment and you will need to pay it back out of future payments, normally over 12 months.

Help and support

Universal Credit helpline: 0800 328 5644 (Freephone)

Get advice and support about Universal Credit:

  • Council Tax Support Scheme (Universal Credit) Policy 2023/24

    Download this document: Council Tax Support Scheme (Universal Credit) Policy 2023/24 (PDF: 331 KB)

    This policy sets out the main objectives of the Council Tax Support Scheme including how it is designed to support low income households on Universal Credit. This scheme is only applicable to people who are claiming or are entitled to Universal Credit.

    First published: 16/10/2023