Universal Credit is a new, simpler, single monthly payment merging together some benefits and tax credits you may receive.
Universal Credit replaces:
Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Child Tax Credit
Working Tax Credit.
You can't receive tax credits at the same time as Universal Credit.
Universal Credit is being introduced in stages across the country. It has been live in Guildford since 15 February 2016.
Whether you can claim depends on where you live and your personal circumstances.
How to claim
Check if you are eligible to apply for Universal Credit on the GOV.UK website. You will need your National Insurance number and your postcode to check.
From 15 February 2016, single people in Guildford, without responsibility for children, who make a new Jobseeker's Allowance application can claim Universal Credit.
You don't need to do anything if you're already claiming any benefits - you'll be told when Universal Credit will affect you.
You may be able to claim Jobseeker's Allowance or other benefits if you don't live in a qualifying area, or you're not eligible to claim Universal Credit.
Universal Credit will be managed online through the Department of Work and Pensions. Please read the guide to Claiming Universal Credit online. You will need to claim online and check payments and updates through your online account.
How you'll be paid
Universal Credit is paid differently. It'll be paid once a month, usually into your bank or building society account.
Find out more about how and when benefits are paid on the Gov.UK benefits and entitlements page.
Any help you get with your rent will be included with your Universal Credit payment and you'll then pay your landlord yourself.
Please read online the Department of Work and Pensions' Universal Credit: guide to managing payments.
Prepare for Universal Credit
Follow these tips to make sure you are ready for Universal Credit payments:
- Set up a bank or building society account if you don't already have one, or join a
- Check if your account is suitable for managing benefit payments on the Money Advice Service website.
- Make sure you budget on a monthly rather than weekly basis. Read the Money Advice Service page on how to budget for a monthly Universal Credit payment.
- Set up automated bill payments to pay rent to your landlord (see below).
- Use the Money Advice Service's budget planner to work out how much money you will have coming in each month and what you need to spend it on.
- You will have to claim and manage your Universal Credit account online. Visit your local library to find courses on how to use a computer. See UK Online Centres for details of where to get online for free.
Setting up automated rent payments
If you get Housing Benefit to help with your rent, this money will now be included in your monthly Universal Credit payment. You will then need to pay your landlord your rent in full.
To avoid falling behind on rent payments, you can arrange automated payments, such as a standing order or Direct Debit, to pay your landlord on the day you get your Universal Credit payment.
If you have a credit union account or a prepaid card account, check you can set up automated payments. If you can't, check the Money Advice Service website to find a different provider.
If you have a Post Office® card account, you won't be able to set up automatic payments.
Do you need a joint account?
If you live with your partner and you're both eligible for Universal Credit, you'll get a single monthly payment which can be paid into either a joint or an individual account.
Check the Money Advice Service page on joint Universal Credit payments for couples to find out what changes you need to make and whether you need a joint account.
Contact the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723.
(Calls to 0345 numbers cost the same as calls to landline 01 or 02 numbers, whether you are calling from a landline or a mobile. Call charges will vary, depending on your phone provider and your contract. If you are not sure of the cost, please ask your phone provider what their call charges are.)