Universal Credit is a new benefit that has started to replace 6 existing benefits with a simpler, single monthly payment if you’re out of work or on a low income. Universal Credit will help you to be better off in work, start a new job or work more hours.
Universal Credit will eventually replace:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has produced a separate guide to Universal Credit for employers.
Universal Credit was introduced on 29 April 2013 in selected areas of Greater Manchester and Cheshire.
At this time, your eligibility to claim Universal Credit depends on where you live and your personal circumstances.
If you already claim a benefit, you’ll continue to do so as normal and you’ll be told when Universal Credit will affect you.
Universal Credit will be gradually rolled out to the rest of the UK from October 2013 and will be completed by 2017.
Making work pay
There are no limits to the number of hours you can work a week. Your Universal Credit payment will reduce gradually as you earn more, so you won’t lose all your benefits at once if you’re on a low income.
How much you’ll receive depends on your personal circumstances.
Universal Credit will be paid on a monthly basis, and will include any support for housing costs you’re entitled to.
How you’ll be paid
Universal Credit is paid differently to current benefits. It’ll be paid once a month into your bank, building society or Post Office account.
Any help you get with your rent will be included with your Universal Credit payment and you’ll then pay your landlord yourself.
Universal Credit has been introduced for newly unemployed jobseekers in certain areas of Greater Manchester and Cheshire.
You may be eligible if you:
- live in an OL6, OL7, M43 or SK16 postcode
- have just become unemployed
Universal Credit will be gradually rolled out to the rest of the UK and extended to more groups of people from October 2013.
You’ll be asked more questions to check your eligibility when you make a claim for Universal Credit.
If you’re not eligible for Universal Credit
If you’re not eligible for Universal Credit, you can:
- claim Jobseeker’s Allowance if you’re looking for work
- claim Employment and Support Allowance if you’re ill or disabled
- use benefits adviser to check what other help you might be eligible for
How to claim
You’ll claim Universal Credit online and then attend a face-to-face interview.
You’ll be told where and when you’ll have to go for your interview.
If you don’t have internet access
Your local council will be able to provide internet access and face-to-face advice. You’ll also be able to use the computers at your local Jobcentre.
If you need help making your claim online
You can get face-to-face advice at your Jobcentre, from your local council or get help over the phone.
Your Claimant Commitment
You’ll sign a ‘Claimant Commitment’ at your interview. This is an agreement that says you accept certain responsibilities in return for claiming Universal Credit. It’ll also say what will happen if you don’t meet those responsibilities.
It’ll take into account your personal circumstances and your financial situation. You’ll be expected to make looking for work your priority.
You’ll still receive financial help if you’re unable to work.
Help and advice
You can get advice online by answering some questions about your personal circumstances – it should take 5 to 10 minutes.
You can also get help with budgeting support for Universal Credit from the Money Advice Service.
You can also register with Universal Jobmatch to find a new job.
You can claim Universal Credit online if you’re eligible.
If your circumstances change
Call the helpline to report any change in your circumstances.
Universal Credit helpline
Telephone: 0845 600 0723
Textphone: 0845 600 0743
Other benefits you may get
You may be eligible for some of the following benefits if you’re getting Universal Credit:
- help with healthcare costs
- Healthy Start – call 0845 607 6823 for advice if you’re pregnant or have a child under 4
- free school meals
- Early Learning for 2-year-olds
- help with prison visiting costs
- court fees
- legal aid
- Disabled Facilities Grants
- Sure Start Maternity Grants
- Cold Weather Payments
- Funeral Payments
- government-funded skills training in England
You can appeal a Universal Credit decision by first contacting the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and then appealing to a tribunal if you’re still not happy with the response.
Before you appeal
Before you appeal to the tribunal, you need to ask the DWP to look at the decision again. This is called ‘mandatory reconsideration’.
Mandatory reconsideration gives you the chance to let DWP know if anything’s changed, and gives DWP the chance to explain or change their decision.
Contact DWP by telephone or in writing, and make it clear why you’re asking for mandatory reconsideration. The telephone number and address will be on your decision letter.
You’ll receive a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’ as a response.
Contact DWP within 1 month of the decision if you think they’ve overlooked something or if your situation has changed.
How to appeal
You can appeal your decision if you’re still unhappy with DWP’s response in the mandatory reconsideration notice. You’ll need to include your mandatory reconsideration notice with the application.
Fill in ‘Notice of appeal against a decision of the Department for Work and Pensions – SSCS1’ and send it to the address on the form.
Other relevant links