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Benefits and Money Advice

What is Universal Credit?

> Click here for updates on how the coronavirus has impacted Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is a new benefit for people of working age. It will replace a number of existing benefits that can be claimed if you’re out of work or if you’re working and living on a low income.

Universal Credit replaces:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support (IS)
  • Income-based job seekers allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit


How to claim Universal Credit

Claims for Universal Credit must be made online and all in one go. You can’t save changes and come back to it later.

Once you’ve made your online application, you’ll be asked to an interview at your local Jobcentre Plus.

Apply for Universal Credit.


Help towards your rent

Universal Credit provides a single payment each month into your bank account. The payment can include a ‘housing costs’ (rent) element if you:

  • Are not in paid work or have a low income

If you live in a shared ownership property, housing costs could help with both your rent and mortgage interest.


Important information

You won’t be entitled to any money until the 8th day after you make your claim.

You will not receive any payment until 6 weeks after your claim because Universal Credit is paid in arrears.

If this will cause rent arrears or hardship you can apply for a Universal Credit Advance. The maximum advance you can get is 50% of your estimated monthly payment. You must pay this back through deductions from your future monthly payments.

If you find it hard to budget on a monthly income or fall into rent arrears, you can ask for your housing costs to be paid directly to us.


Universal Credit Full Service

From April 2018 all new Universal Credit claims will be made using Universal Credit Full Service. You will need to create an online account to make and manage your claim. You can use this account to report any changes of circumstance, send messages to your work coach and find support.

All Universal Credit claims made before April 2018 are known as Live Service. These claims will eventually be moved to Full Service.


Housing costs for 18 to 21 year olds

You may not be able to get help to pay your rent if you are under 22 and make a new claim for Universal Credit in a full digital service area.

You will not be affected by this rule if:

  • You already get Universal Credit housing costs or housing benefit
  • Claim Universal Credit in a Live Service area
  • Work 16 or more hours per week

If you do make a new claim in a Full Service area you can get help to pay rent if:

  • You claim as a couple
  • Have a dependent child
  • Were in care when you were 16 or 17
  • Get the daily living component of PIP or middle or high care component of DLA
  • You may also get rent help if you’re unable to live with either of your parents because you’re at risk of harm.


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