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.
- 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 making your claim before 27 January 2021 and are entitled to a severe disability premium (or have been in the last month) within your claim to Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance. This only applies to claims made up to 27 January 2021; for help with housing costs on or after 27 January 2021, a claim will need to be made to Universal Credit.
- You have reached pensionable age (visit the GOV.UK website to check your pensionable age). Since 15 May 2019, both members of a couple have needed 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 we are able to backdate pensionable age claims 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 you can make a claim for Housing Benefit.
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 to 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.
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.
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 Reduction included in Universal Credit?
No, Council Tax Reduction (formerly Council Tax Support) is not included in Universal Credit. If you need help with your Council Tax, you need to claim Council Tax Reduction from Telford & Wrekin Council.
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 and
- sorting out the best way to manage your money.
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 has a Universal Credit Help to Claim telephone service. This is a freephone number that is available between 8am and 6pm, Mondays to Fridays - 0800 1448 444.
Last updated: 15/01/2021 14:47