What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new benefit that is being gradually introduced across the country. It will eventually replace existing benefits for working age people, such as Jobseeker's Allowance, Tax Credits and Housing Benefit, with a single monthly payment.

At present, Universal Credit only affects newly unemployed single people with no children or other dependants. Couples and people who are part of a family will not be affected by Universal Credit at this time. People of pensionable age will continue to receive Housing Benefit from Huntingdonshire District Council.

What will Universal Credit replace?

Universal Credit will replace:

  • income-related Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

Am I eligible for Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages throughout the UK and began in Huntingdonshire in February 2016.

If you're already claiming any benefits you don't need to do anything. You'll be told when Universal Credit will affect you.

New benefit claimants

To claim Universal Credit you must:

  • be of working age and fit for work
  • have no children
  • not be waiting to hear about a claim or an appeal for Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit or Housing Benefit.

There are other certain conditions that may mean you cannot claim Universal Credit. You can check if you are eligible for Universal Credit on GOV.UK.

How to claim Universal Credit

To claim Universal Credit you will need to apply online

If you don't have access to a computer or the internet, you can use the computers and free WiFi available at libraries across Huntingdonshire or our Customer Service Centres.

You will need to allow up to 40 minutes to fill in the online application and it must be completed in one session. You can't save a partially completed form and come back to it later, so it's a good idea to have all your information to hand before you get started.

Payments of Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a single payment which is only paid to one household member. It is paid in the following ways:

  • in arrears directly into your bank or building society account
  • if you get help with your rent, this will be included in your monthly Universal Credit payment – you’ll then pay your landlord directly
  • it will take at least five or six weeks before you get your first payment, but you can ask the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) for an advance payment if you don't have enough money to last that long
  • if you successfully submit an application, you’ll be contacted by the DWP to arrange an interview at a Job Centre to complete your application. 

Universal Credit and waiting days

If you make a new claim for Universal Credit you will not be paid for the first seven days. These are known as waiting days. However, you should not let this delay your claim and apply as soon as you are eligible to do so.

The seven day waiting period won’t apply in certain circumstances, for example if you:

  • are terminally ill or vulnerable
  • have previously claimed Universal Credit
  • are splitting up from or moving in with a Universal Credit claimant or
  • are moving on to it from another benefit.

Help with housing costs and Council Tax

Housing costs

Any help you get with your rent will be included in your Universal Credit payment. As the tenant, you are responsible for paying your rent to your landlord. In some circumstances payments can be made directly to your landlord, for example, when there are rent arrears or a threat of eviction or you find it difficult to manage payments.

Information about what Universal Credit means for landlords is available from GOV.UK. 

Council Tax

Help with Council Tax is not included in your Universal Credit payment. You must claim for Council Tax support directly to us by using our online form and provide any evidence needed to support your claim. 

Further help and advice

You can find lots of information about Universal Credit on the Universal Credit website.

The Universal Credit online planning tool can help you to prepare for making a claim for Universal Credit. It provides advice on what you need to do next and the best sources of advice on offer. 

You can telephone the Universal Credit helpline:

Telephone: 0345 600 0723 or 0845 600 0723

Textphone: 0345 600 0743

Calls to this number can cost up to 9p a minute from a landline, or between 8p and 40p a minute from a mobile (your phone provider can tell you how much you'll pay). You can call and ask them to call you back.

Further information and advice is also available from the Money Advice Service