Universal Credit is a new working age benefit introduced by the Government to help with your living and housing costs. It is available to those who are on low income because they are, out of work, work part-time or are not working due to illness, disability or caring commitments.
Universal Credit replaces six existing benefits:
- Jobseeker's Allowance (Income Based)
- Housing Benefit
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance (Income Based)
- Income Support
You cannot claim any of these benefits and Universal Credit at the same time. If you are entitled to the New style Employment & Support Allowance or New Style Jobseekers Allowance which are contribution based benefits, you may also claim Universal Credit for your housing costs.
What are the main differences between Universal Credit and the current system?
Under Universal Credit:
- Claims can only be made online.
- You will be paid monthly.
- Universal credit is paid in arrears and can take up to five weeks from when you claim for your first payment to be made. You may ask for a small advance.
- Your rent will be included in your monthly payment and you will be responsible for paying it to your landlord (except in certain circumstances).
- If you are required to make a new claim for Universal Credit and you are an existing claimant of Housing Benefit then you will likely be entitled to a two week transitional payment which means you get two additional weeks of help with your rent while you await your universal credit payment.
- If you are living as a couple and both of you claim Universal Credit then you will be paid one joint monthly payment
- There is no limit on how many hours you work. Instead of losing your benefits all at once they will gradually reduce as you earn more.
There's also a short video explaining the changes available to view visit www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk for more information.