What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is part of the Government’s Welfare Reform policy. It replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment. The “legacy” benefits that Universal Credit replaces are:
- Income-Based Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
There are three main routes on to Universal Credit. Read the options to see how they may affect you.
I’m a new claimant
If you are claiming one or more legacy benefits for the first time, the likelihood is that you will need to submit a claim for Universal Credit. However, there are some exceptions.
You can still make a new claim for housing benefit if:
- you are living in supported or temporary accommodation or
- you (and your partner) have reached pension age
If either you or your partner are below pension age, you will need to apply for Universal Credit until the younger partner reaches pension age.
You can still make a new claim for any legacy benefit if you are already getting a Severe Disability Premium (SDP) in the benefit or were getting an SDP in the last month before your claim and you continue to meet the rules for it.
Further information regarding SDP can be found here
The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) have created a video which explains how to claim.
The Department of Work and Pensions has a really helpful short online questionnaire which can tell you what you need to do to get ready for Universal Credit.
I currently claim one or more legacy benefit and my circumstances have changed.
If you currently claim one or more legacy benefit and have a change of circumstances, you may be required to claim Universal Credit. Changes could include:
- Change in employment status
- A change in family circumstances
- A partner leaving or joining the household
- Starting or stopping being a carer
- Starting or stopping a claim based on disability
- Moving home (to a different local authority)
There are circumstances where you can continue to receive your legacy benefits – further information can be found here.
Between 2020 and December 2024, it is anticipated that the majority of legacy benefit claimants will be asked to claim Universal Credit. This means that your entitlement to legacy benefits will stop.
Prior to the transfer, the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) will write to you to tell you what to do. This letter will help you to have a smooth transition to Universal Credit, so it’s important to read it as soon as you can.
If your Universal Credit award is less than what you currently receive from your legacy benefit(s), you will receive “transitional protection”. This means that your Universal Credit payment will not be less than your current legacy benefit payment. Transitional protection will stop if your Universal Credit claim ends and will not be applicable if you reapply for Universal Credit at a later date. You are not eligible for transitional protection if you move to Universal Credit as a result of a change of circumstances.
Where can I go for Help?
We have a specialist team who can provide you with lots of information, advice and support so, if you’re concerned about money you owe and would like to talk to someone in confidence, please call us on 0300 456 2929
You can also send enquiries through our secure online portal.
Universal Credit – Your Journey
Check out our handy leaflet showing you what happens when you make a claim for universal credit.
Previous Universal Credit updates:
Published 16th May, 2018
Published 13th February, 2018
Published 25th January, 2018
Published 11th January, 2018
Published 19th December, 2017
Published 6th December, 2017
Published 1st November, 2017