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Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people of working age who are out of work or on a low income. 

Universal Credit replaces the following benefits:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Jobseekers Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit.

If you are already getting one of the above benefits, your local Jobcentre or Tax Credits office will tell you when you have to move to Universal Credit.

Managed Migration

This started in September 2023 for households who get Tax Credits only, and is being rolled out from April 2024 for those getting Housing Benefit, Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance and some Employment and Support Allowance cases.  You will receive a Migration Notice from the Department for Work and Pensions explaining what you need to do, and by when.  Find out more about the move to Universal Credit and for more information about when certain benefits are migrating to Universal Credit download the document below.

Universal Credit migration timeline (PDF) [129KB]

Your benefits will stop if you do not claim Universal Credit by the deadline date.  If you cannot claim Universal Credit by the deadline date, you should contact the Universal Credit Migration Notice helpline as soon as possible.

It usually takes around 5 weeks to get your first payment.  If you need help with your living costs while you wait for your first payment, you can apply for an advance within your Universal Credit online account.  You'll need to pay back your advance in instalments from your future Universal Credit payments.

In some cases, you should still claim Housing Benefit.

On this page:

How Universal Credit works

Universal Credit is paid in a different way to current benefits. You will get a single payment for your household, and it will usually be paid once a month into your bank account.

Most high street banks offer a basic bank account that is accessible to all. The Money Advice Service website offers guidance on choosing a bank account for benefit payments.

If your Universal Credit payment includes housing costs to help with paying your rent, you will need to pay this to your landlord.

Find out more about Universal Credit on the GOV.UK website.

Who can claim Universal Credit

You might be able to claim Universal Credit if:

  • you are unemployed or on a low income
  • you are aged 18 or over
  • you or your partner are under state pension age
  • you and your partner have less than £16,000 in savings.

In some circumstances, you can claim Universal Credit if you are 16 or 17 years old or when you're studying.

You can check if you are entitled to claim using one of these benefits calculators.

Find out more about Universal Credit on the Money Advice Service website.

How to claim Universal Credit

You can apply for Universal Credit online on the GOV.UK website.

If you need any help, call 0800 328 5644 or contact the Citizens Advices Help to Claim service on 0800 144 8444.

If you do not have access to the internet, visit your local Jobcentre or library for help with an application.

Your online application will take around 45 minutes. You must have the following information ready before you start:

  • your postcode
  • your National Insurance number
  • your email address
  • your mobile telephone number
  • details of your bank or building society
  • your rent agreement (if you have one) or proof of the rent you pay
  • details of your income
  • details of your savings
  • details of any benefits you are getting
  • child benefit numbers (if you get child benefit).

If you need help with paying your rent, make sure you select Yes to paying rent during the application.

Help with paying Council Tax

Universal Credit does not include Council Tax Support. You have to claim this separately.

Do not delay in making your claim.

Shortfall in rent

If there is a shortfall in the amount of Universal Credit you receive towards your rent and your actual rent, you may be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

We must be satisfied that the shortfall is causing you financial hardship.

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