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0808 808 3555
What is Universal Credit?
When will I
be expected to claim Universal Credit?
Making a claim
for Universal Credit
Universal Credit be calculated?
Will Universal Credit be less generous than other benefits?
Universal Credit is a new benefit for people of working age. It
is paid both to people who are out of work and to those in
employment. It is replacing most of the current means-tested
benefits for people of working age.
What benefits is Universal Credit replacing?
These are known as the 'legacy benefits'.
Listen to an adviser from our helpline explain what Universal
When will I be expected to claim Universal Credit?
New claims by families with disabled
Universal Credit has now replaced new claims for means tested
benefits in all parts of the UK. If you have more than two
dependent children and try to make a new claim for one of the
legacy benefits that Universal Credit is replacing, you will be
told that this legacy benefit no longer exists for new claimants.
You will also be told that you have the option of claiming
Universal Credit instead.
It is up to you whether you claim Universal Credit or not. If
you do decide to make a claim it will also replace any legagcy
benefits you are already getting.
From 1 Feb 2019, the government plans to scrap the rule
exempting families with three or more children from claiming
In June 2018, the government announced that disabled adults in
receipt of a payment called the severe disability premium will also
be excempt from claiming Universal Credit. Seek further advice if
this applies to you.
If someone in a full service area already gets income-related
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Jobseeker's Allowance
(JSA) but makes a new claim for contributory ESA/JSA, their income
related ESA/JSA award will be abolished and a claim for Universal
Credit may be needed instead.
Common reasons families end up on Universal
If you have less than three dependent children and your
circumstances change so that you try to make a new claim for a
legacy benefit you will be told that benefit no longer exists for
new claimants . You will be told that you can claim Universal
Credit instead. For example:
- If you are an existing tax credit claimant but seperate from
your partner, you will be told that your couples claim for tax
credits must end. Unfortunately you will not be able to make a new
tax credits as a single person, but will have the option of
claiming Universal Credit instead. Similiar rules apply if you
currently claim tax credits as a single person and start to live
with a new partner.
- If you are a renter who gets housing benefit and you move to a
new tenancy in a different council area, your current housing
benefit claim will end. You will not be able to make a new claim
for housing benefit from your new council but will be told that you
can claim Universal Credit towards the rent at your new tenancy
instead. The situation is different if you move to a new tenancy in
the same council area - that should be treated as a review of an
existing housing benefit claim, so housing benefit should still be
paid at your new address.
- If you are have been getting income based job seeker's
allowance and start to get DLA care component for your child at the
middle or highest rate, you may wish to stop job-seeking and to
claim income support as a full time carer instead. However you will
be told that it's not possible to make a new claim for income
support anymore. You can claim Universal Credit instead if you
Some people can be left worse off after claiming Universal
Credit so it is always worth getting advice before making a
Only new claims for the means tested legacy benefits are
affected by the introduction of Universal Credit. It will still be
possible to make new claims for other non means tested benefits and
for a council tax reduction. Making a new claim for
Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or
Carer's Allowance will not lead to any expectation that you claim
Universal Credit. Neither will notifying the tax credits office
that you have been awarded DLA for your child. This is because this
will be treated as a review of an existing tax credit claim and not
as a new claim.
Universal Credit rollout to existing benefits
For the time being, existing claimants who do not try to make a
new claim for one of the benefits Universal Credit is replacing
will not be affected.
However, between July 2019 and March 2023 the government intends
to invite all existing claimants of means-tested benefits and tax
credits to claim Universal Credit. They have called this process
'managed migration' onto Universal Credit.
Warning- If you have more than two dependent
children, there is nothing preventing you from opting to move from
your existing means-tested benefits onto Universal Credit. However,
this may not be a good idea as many families with a disabled child
will be worse off under Universal Credit.
In most cases you need to make a claim for Universal Credit
online. In order to do this you will first need to set up an online
account via the www.gov.uk
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) won't normally write
or phone you about your Universal Credit claim. Instead they will
send you messages via your online account, so you will need to
check this regularly to see if there is anything they have asked
you to do or any information that they have asked you to
Listen to an adviser from our helpline explain how you make a
claim for Universal Credit.
The claimant commitment
In order to be paid Universal Credit you will need to sign a
'claimant commitment' - this is an agreement between Jobcentre Plus
and you, setting out what steps you need to take in order to be
paid Universal Credit.
Some groups of claimants will need to look for work in order to
be paid. Others, including many - but not all - full-time carers
will be exempt from having to meet any work-related
Listen to an adviser from Contact a Family's helpline explain
more about the claimant commitment.
Getting paid Universal Credit
Universal Credit is normally paid monthly in arrears, and there
is usually a wait of at least six weeks before you will get your
first payment. If this delay causes you hardship you can ask for a
'short term benefit advance'. This is a discretionary loan that
needs to be repaid to the DWP from your future payments.
If you are renting a property then any help you get with rent
will be paid to you rather than your landlord. This means that you
will have to pass on part of your Universal Credit payments to your
landlord to avoid falling into rent arrears.
The calculation starts with a 'maximum amount' of Universal
Credit you would get depending on factors such as your family size,
caring responsibilities, housing costs and childcare costs.
The amount of Universal Credit you will receive is reduced
depending on what other income you have coming in.
Child disability addition for families with a disabled
As part of the maximum amount calculation, a child disability
addition is included for each dependent child in your family who
Living Allowance (DLA) (or Personal
Independence Payment (PIP))
This is paid at one of two rates. The higher rate of £86.34 will
be awarded for a child who:
All other children on DLA or PIP will qualify for the lower rate
of the addition. This will only be £29.10 per week.
Contact is worried that many families with a disabled child will
be worse off under Universal Credit. This is particularly likely if
you are an out of work family with a disabled child who does not
qualify for the higher disability addition.
This is because the lower rate of the child disability addition
is set at £29.10 per week. Given that the equivalent additional
payment under the existing benefits system is £62.86 per week, this
represents a cut of £33.76 per week or just over £1,750 per year.
Since the child disability addition is paid for each disabled
child, those families with two children on the lower addition could
lose twice this amount.
Won't families be transitionally protected to make sure they won't
lose out under Universal Credit?
The government has said that it will transitionally protect some
existing claimants. However, this will only apply to existing
claimants with no changes in their circumstances who are moved onto
Universal Credit by the government as part of 'managed migration'
between 2019-2023. These families will be able to receive top-up
payments to ensure they are no worse off under Universal
However, if you are someone who has to claim Universal Credit
because you have had a change of circumstances and tried to claim
one of the legacy benefits, you will not get any transitional
This means that all those families in full service areas
claiming Universal Credit between now and July 2019 will not be