Universal Credit: the basics
The Universal Credit is planned to replace:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
There are a few key differences between the Universal Credit and the old benefits system:
- It’s paid monthly, rather than weekly or fortnightly
- It will go straight into your bank account – even money to help with rent, which used to go straight to your landlord
- If you are living with a partner and you both receive benefits, you’ll instead get a single payment for the household
There are also differences in how what you receive is calculated. For example, on Jobseeker’s Allowance there is a maximum number of hours you can work each week without losing your benefits. On the Universal Credit, there is no maximum, but what you receive will go down if your income goes up. How these differences affect you will depend on your particular circumstances.
Who gets Universal Credit?
At the moment, Universal Credit is only being used in certain areas. You can find out which areas the scheme has reached on Gov.uk. It’s also only being given to people who have recently become unemployed. Everyone else will continue to receive the old benefits.
It’s planned for Universal Credit to roll out across the UK by 2017.
How do I claim?
If you’re eligible for Universal Credit, you’ll need to claim online. If you don’t have internet access at home, you might be able to get help claiming at a JobCentre, or you could use your local library.
You’ll need a bank account for your money to be paid into. If you don’t have a bank account, you could set up a Post Office Card Account – a simple bank account specifically designed for benefit payments.
You’ll also have to sign an agreement saying what you will do to find work and how long you will spend looking for a job each week. If you don’t do what the agreement says, your benefits could be cut.