Universal Credit replaces the current system of working-age benefits and Tax Credits, and will affect all new benefit claimants and anyone with a change of circumstances.
Universal Credit works differently from other benefits - so if you’re moving from another benefit it’s important to know the differences.
The biggest differences are:
- you can get Universal Credit if you’re unemployed but also if you’re working
- you’ll get a single payment each month, rather than weekly or fortnightly
- instead of getting a separate housing benefit, your housing costs will be paid directly to you as part of your monthly Universal Credit payment.
Universal Credit replaces:
- Income Related Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Related Employment Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit.
Please note: Universal Credit does not replace Council Tax Benefit/Support. If you are liable for Council Tax and have claimed or are in receipt of Universal Credit you will also need to claim Council Tax Support from the council. For further information, visit our Council Tax Support page.
Universal Credit payments
Universal Credit is paid in the following ways:
- It will be paid monthly into a bank account of your choice.
- If you get help with your rent, this will be included in your monthly payment – you’ll then pay your landlord directly.
- It will take at least 6 weeks before you get your first payment, but you can ask for an advance payment if you don't have enough money to last that long.
- If your application is successful, you’ll be contacted by the Department of Work and Pensions to arrange an interview at a Jobcentre to complete your application.
It’s important that you prepare for your interview – read our advice on how you should prepare.
How to claim Universal Credit
Applications for Universal Credit can be made on the gov.uk website by clicking on the button.
There are certain conditions that may mean you cannot claim Universal Credit, you can check for eligibility for benefits on GOV.UK.
What you will need to apply
- your bank, building society or credit union account details
- an email address
- your National Insurance number
- information about your housing, for example how much rent you pay
- details of your income, for example payslips
- details of savings and any investments, like shares or a property that you rent out
- details of how much you pay for childcare if you’re applying for help with childcare costs.
If you don’t provide the right information when you apply it might affect when you get paid or how much you get.
You also have to verify your identity online. You’ll need some proof of identity for this, for example your:
- driving licence
- debit or credit card.
For help with making an application, or for any queries you can call the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 6000 723 or visit the Government’s website on Universal Credit.
You should discuss any problems with your Work Coach at the Job Centre, particularly if you are worried about making your money last before you receive your first payment. The Job Centre may be able to offer you an Advanced Payment if this is the case.
Citizens Advice Peterborough offer support with making a new claim for Universal Credit, from opening your account to receiving your first full payment.
Their trained advisers can help you to:
- Set-up your Universal Credit account
- Complete your claim to-dos
- Verify your identity
- Make sure you’re providing the right evidence to the Jobcentre
- Understand what Universal Credit will mean for you
If you’re not sure what help you need just get in touch and they’ll work out what support you need.
If you are worried about how you will manage for money until you get paid, you should discuss this with your Work Coach at the Job Centre.
Further information and advice is also available from the Money Advice Service.
Claims for Universal Credit are made online, this means you'll need to have access to a fast stable broadband connection and be able to use the Internet.
If you don't have access to a computer or the internet, you can access computers and Wi-Fi internet in libraries across Peterborough.
Computers are available to use free of charge at the Job Centre and at Citizens Advice Peterborough. You can also take a beginners course at a UK Online centre. To find a centre near you, visit UK Online Centres or phone 0800 77 1234.
If you can use a computer a little but aren't confident using the internet, try the Online Basics course on Learn My Way. You can do this free course online straight away.
If you're concerned about internet security, go to the Get Safe Online website for information and advice.