Universal Credit is a new type of single, monthly benefit payment for people of working age who are looking for work or are on a low income.
If you are on a low income and do not meet the criteria to claim Housing Benefit, you will need to claim Universal Credit for help with your housing costs.
You may get Housing Benefit to help you pay your rent if you’re on a low income and:
- Are of State Pension Age or
- Are living in temporary accommodation, or specified accommodation where care and support is being provided
Council Tax Reduction
Universal Credit does not include help towards Council Tax. If you need help with your council tax payments you can claim Council Tax Reduction.
Applying for Universal Credit
You will need the following details for you and your partner:
- National Insurance Number
- Details of your bank or building society account
- How much rent you pay
- Your landlords address and contact details
- Details of any savings
- Details of your income
- Childcare costs (if applicable)
Applications will take up to 40 minutes but you are able to save your position and return.
Universal Credit is replacing
- Housing benefit
- Income support (IS)
- Jobseekers allowance (JSA)
- Employment and support allowance (ESA)
- Child tax credit
- Working tax credit
You can still apply for Council Tax reduction alongside Universal Credit.
The main differences of Universal Credit
- One monthly payment for your household
- Paid directly into your bank account
- You need to apply for and manage your Universal Credit account
- Universal Credit includes your rent, so you will need to pay this to your landlord
- You will still need to claim some benefits like Council Tax reduction or disability allowance separately.
Preparing for Universal Credit
1. Open a bank account
Open a bank account with direct debit or standing order facility to pay your monthly bills. If you and your partner are both claiming you will receive a joint payment.
2. Start budgeting
Start budgeting and make a monthly plan of your outgoings. Under Universal Credit you will receive a single monthly payment to cover all of your expenses, including rent, bills and food. When you first make a claim you will not receive a payment for up to six weeks, so you will need to put money aside to cover this.
3. Get online
You will have to make your Universal Credit claim and manage your account online. If you don't have internet access at home, you will need to get online regularly. Your Job Centre, Library or the local community centre will be able to help you with computers you can use and give free advice on improving your online skills.
4. Valid ID
You will need a valid form of photo ID, such as a driving licence or passport, be able to prove your address and have a National Insurance Number. Or go to gov.uk/verify.
5. Keep your landlord up to date
Make sure you have up to date contact details and make them aware of any changes to the circumstances which could affect the payment of your rent.
Useful contacts and information
Universal Credit helpline
Telephone: 0800 328 9344
10 Hamilton Terrace, Leamington Spa,
Telephone: 03003 301 183
Universal Credit’s full service can be found on GOV.UK. You can use it on any internet enabled device and it will look and feel the same regardless of what device you use.
Before you open an account and make a claim for Universal Credit, you’ll need to have an email address, mobile number and a bank, building society or credit union account.
We also recommend getting all your personal details before you start such as any photo ID, your rent costs, wages, and child and partner details. You’ll be asked a few questions first about where you live and if you have any children to ensure that you’re claiming the right benefit for you. If Universal Credit is not the right benefit for you, you’ll see other potential options available and can follow the links for more information.