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Universal Credit

What is it?

Universal Credit is an income-based, working-age benefit which you can claim if you are out of work or on a low income.

It replaces the following benefits and tax credits with one single calendar monthly payment:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

Am I eligible?

You may be able to get Universal Credit if:

  • you’re on a low income, whether in or out of work
  • you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
  • you’re under state pension age (or your partner is)
  • you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
  • you live in the UK

The amount you get will vary depending on your circumstances including any other income you or your partner may have, any savings above £6000 you have, any children you are responsible for, any health issues or caring responsibilities you may have and your housing costs.

The number of children you have does not affect your eligibility for Universal Credit, but it may affect how much you get.

If you live with a partner your partner’s income and savings will be taken into account, even if they are not eligible for Universal Credit.

How do I apply?

You can only apply for Universal Credit online at Universal Credit - GOV.UK.

You will need the following to make your claim:

  • an email address
  • your national insurance number (if you have a partner you will also need to know their national insurance number)
  • your bank account number and sort code and the name and address of the bank, building society or credit union
  • information about your housing, including how much rent your rent is, when your tenancy started and who your landlord is
  • details of any earnings, other income, savings and investments you (and your partner if you have one) have
  • details of any children/relatives/other people who live with you, including their name, date of birth, relationship to you and income
  • details of how much you pay for childcare if you are looking for assistance with childcare costs

If you are a council tenant and you are not sure of the correct rent amount you can contact us to check this before you make your claim.

If you’re in a couple and only one of you has reached state pension age

You and your partner will need to claim Universal Credit as a couple if one of you is under state pension age. When you both reach state pension age your Universal Credit claim will stop and you should claim Pension Credit

Once your claim has been made you must make an appointment at your local job centre plus office within seven days to ensure that your claim is processed. If you do not arrange an appointment your claim will be cancelled.


If you claim universal credit, any housing costs (your rent) will be included in your payment. You will be responsible for paying rent to your landlord.

Once you have received your first payment of universal credit you may request:

  • more frequent payments, for example twice monthly
  • your housing costs (rent) being paid directly to your landlord

If you need to change your payments you must contact the Department for Work and Pensions.

It will take five weeks before you receive your first payment of universal credit.

You can request an advance payment before your first payment if you are struggling financially. This advance payment must be paid back and deductions will be made from your future universal credit payments for a period of up to 12 months until you have repaid the full amount.


You will need to plan your budget as universal credit is paid calendar monthly rather than weekly or fortnightly. 

Things you must do:

  • Carry out all the tasks that you have agreed with your universal credit work coach. For example, you must meet the requirements in your claimant commitment and ensure your job searches are up-to-date in order to avoid being sanctioned.
  • Make a separate claim online for help with your council tax payments. This is called the council tax reduction scheme.
  • Report any changes in your circumstances via your online universal credit account immediately. Changes could include:
    • moving address
    • relationship starts or ends
    • bereavement
    • finding work
    • change in working hours
    • loss of job
    • going back to work after sickness
    • beginning to pay for childcare when you are working
    • become a carer
    • going abroad or you are planning to go abroad
    • your income or capital changes
    • birth of a child
    • someone leaves or joins your household

Please note - the above list is not exhaustive.

If you are affected by the under-occupancy charge (bedroom tax) your universal credit award will be reduced automatically. You may be eligible to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to help cover the difference between your universal credit award and the rent charge. You can collect the form from your local First Stop Shop.

Severe Disability Premium (SDP) Gateway

The SDP is a premium which is sometimes paid within income support, income-related ESA, income-based JSA or housing benefit.

If you are entitled to an SDP within one of these benefits, or were entitled within the last month, you should not be able to make a universal credit claim and instead should be able to claim any of the benefits listed above which are being replaced by universal credit.

You will only qualify for an SDP if all of the following apply:

  • you get personal independence payment daily living component, attendance allowance, disability living allowance care component at the middle or higher rate, constant attendance allowance or armed forces independence payment and
  • you technically count as living alone and
  • no one is paid carer's allowance, or has been awarded the carer element in their universal credit claim for looking after you

Can I challenge the decision?

You can challenge a decision if you are unhappy with it. To find out how to do this please refer to our 'Challenging Decisions' page.


Page last updated:
29 Feb 2024

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