What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a new benefit for working age people who are on a low earned income or are out of work.
Universal Credit replaces the following six main working age benefits with one payment:
- Income Support
- Jobseeker's Allowance (income-based)
- Employment and Support Allowance (income-related)
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit.
Universal Credit is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions.
When will Universal Credit begin?
Universal Credit started to be rolled out for a very limited number of customers in the Telford and Wrekin area from 1 June 2015. Since 14 November 2018, most new working age customers in the Telford and Wrekin area who are on a low earned income, have become unemployed or are sick have needed to make a claim for Universal Credit.
You cannot get Housing Benefit if you get Universal Credit as your Universal Credit payment will include an element for housing costs, unless you fall within one of the exceptions below. As a result, you will need to arrange to pay rent to your landlord.
Are there any exceptions?
If any of the following apply, you will still be able to make a new claim for Housing Benefit to help with your housing costs if:
- you live in specified or supported exempt accommodation (where you have been placed in the accommodation due to an identifiable need for care, support or supervision, and your landlord is a housing association, registered charity or voluntary organisation)
- you live in temporary accommodation provided by Telford & Wrekin Council
- you are entitled to a severe disability premium (or have been in the last month) within your claim for Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- you have reached pensionable age (check your pensionable age). From 15 May 2019, both members of a couple will need to have reached pensionable age. If one member of the couple is of pensionable age and the claim is made on or before 13 August 2019, we may still be able to treat the claim as a pensionable age claim and pay Housing Benefit. This is because for pensionable age claims, we are able to backdate for 3 months - as long as there is entitlement. We can also treat couples who are in receipt of Pension Credit as a pensionable age couple, even if one member has yet to reach pensionable age.
If one of these exceptions applies and you want to make a claim for Housing Benefit, please visit our Housing Benefit pages to start your claim.
What do I need to do?
If you are already receiving one of the six benefits that Universal Credit will replace, you don’t need to do anything yet. If you have a change of circumstances, the Department for Work and Pensions will tell you if you need to make a claim for Universal Credit. Examples of a change include if you start or finish work, if you become ill or you get better and are able to start looking for work.
If you need to make a new claim, you can apply on the GOV.UK website.
What are the main changes?
Universal Credit is usually paid monthly in a single household payment and this is usually direct to the claimant. You will have an online journal that you need to update regularly. More information on Universal Credit can be found on the GOV.UK website.
If you want to change how often or who the Universal Credit payment is made, to you should speak to your work coach.
Is Council Tax Support included in Universal Credit?
No, Council Tax Support is not included in Universal Credit. If you need help with your Council Tax, you need to claim Council Tax Support from Telford & Wrekin Council. You can find out more information about Council Tax Support and make an application via our What is Council Tax Support? page.
How can I prepare?
You can get ready for Universal Credit by:
- finding out where to get online
- making sure you have an email address and you know how to access it
- making sure you have a suitable bank account
- sorting out the best way to manage your money.
There is useful information on managing your money ready for Universal Credit on the GOV.UK website.
What if I need help making an online claim?
If you need to make a claim for Universal Credit and are not able to do so online, or you are having difficulty making a claim, Citizens Advice have a Universal Credit Help to Claim telephone service. It is a freephone number that is available between 8am and 6pm, Mondays to Fridays – 0800 1448 444.