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Universal Credit – the basics

For further information and advice on your benefits claim, please see our Welfare Rights Service

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit replaces most of the older means-tested benefits such as housing benefit, working tax credits or income-based ESA. It’s made up of many elements that substitute those: a standard allowance, a child element, a carer element, a disabled child element and a disability element.

You can make an approximate calculation of how much UC you are entitled to here.

How long will it be before I receive my first payment?

Be aware that it takes 5 weeks to receive your first payment, so don’t put off applying. You can get an advance loan to tide you over during this time, but you will have to pay it back from your future UC payments (usually in instalments ranging from £40 to £90 a month).

Does it cover my housing costs?

Yes, at least in part. It normally will not cover your whole rent.

Universal Credit replaces housing benefit, so you cannot make a new housing benefit claim, unless you live in temporary, sheltered or supported accommodation.

How much you receive depends on the kind of accommodation you are in, your age, and the amount of rooms you have.

Will it affect my other benefits?

Yes. If you claim Universal Credit, the following benefits will stop:

  • Working Tax Credits
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Housing benefits
  • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income based Job Seeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support

Seek advice before claiming Universal Credit if you are receiving the above benefits.

My partner works full time. Can I still apply for Universal Credit?

If you live with your partner and they earn more than your Universal Credit entitlement, you won’t receive any Universal Credit.

You might still be able to apply for New-Style Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and New-Style Employment and Support Allowance.

How do I claim it?

The easiest way to claim Universal Credit is online. Just click here and follow the instructions.

If you don’t have easy access to an internet connection, you can also apply on the phone, by calling: 0800 328 5644.

See the next question if you need help with your application!

I have more questions. What do I do?

For specialist advice on Universal Credit, get in touch with our Universal Credit Advice Service: