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Universal Credit

This is just a brief overview.

Further information and guidance can be found by using the external website links on the right of this page.

What is Universal Credit?

It is a new benefit for people of working age who are living on a low income or who are out of work.

Universal Credit is a monthly payment that replaces some other benefits:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support

This will make it simpler to access the benefit system through one application. If you’re already claiming benefits, your local Jobcentre Plus or Tax Credits office will tell you when you have to move to Universal Credit.

You may be able to claim Universal Credit if you’re on a low income or out of work.

How much you’ll get depends on your circumstances, including your income and how many children you have.

How does it work?

There’s no limit to the number of hours you can work a week if you get Universal Credit.

Your payment will reduce gradually as you earn more. You won’t lose all your benefits at once if you’re on a low income.

When you move to Universal Credit

If you are already on other benefits you will carry on claiming those benefits until there is a break in your claim. It includes help with housing costs, children, childcare and living expenses. It will also give financial support to disabled people and carers and people who are too sick to work.

Once you’ve claimed Universal Credit, any benefits that it replaces will stop. You’ll start getting Universal Credit instead.

How is it paid?

Universal Credit is paid monthly into your bank account like a wage would be and you can get help about how to budget and manage your money. It makes it easier to move into work as you can still claim when you work for 16 hours (unlike previously with Jobseekers Allowance).

How do I make a claim?

You can claim online at:  

If you don’t have a computer at home you can come in to your local Jobcentre and use one there. There will be someone on hand to help you if you have difficulties.

What happens next?

You will invited to an interview with a Work Coach and asked to bring in proof of your identity and evidence to prove some aspects of your claim. You will be told what to bring.

Your Work Coach will talk to you about what sort of work you are looking for and ask you to sign a Claimant Commitment. This is an agreement which says what you will do to help yourself find work.

The Claimant Commitment is personalised for you. You must do what you have agreed to do in your Claimant Commitment otherwise your Universal Credit could stop. This could include activities such as:-

  • attending a training course,
  • writing a CV,
  • applying for jobs,
  • researching what an employer has to offer.

For those who may find it harder to get a job it could also include

  • improving IT skills,
  • attending community groups,
  • working with specialist organisations.

Your Work Coach will keep in touch with you by email, telephone or a face to face interview to check how you are getting on with the activities you have agreed to do. You will keep the same Work Coach whilst you are on Universal Credit.

Universal Credit claimants will be expected to register on Universal Jobmatch, an online service where you can find and apply for jobs. You will need to provide evidence of the steps taken to meet the conditions of your Claimant Commitment.

Giving your work coach access to your Universal Jobmatch account may help to provide this evidence as they will be able to see what you have done to look for work on line. With Universal Credit you’ll get help to identify your skills and a clear job search plan to help you get back to work more quickly. The work you find might be part time or maybe a stepping stone to your long term career aims depending on your abilities.

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