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What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit be introduced?
Making a claim
for Universal Credit
Universal Credit be calculated?
Will Universal Credit be more 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
New claims by families with disabled
The Universal Credit full service is being introduced area by
area. However by the 12th of December it should apply to all parts
of the UK.
If you live in a Universal Credit full service area
and you try to make a new claim for one of the
legacy benefits, you will be asked to claim Universal Credit
This applies to most working age claimants, including parents of
disabled children. However, currently it does not
apply if you have three or more dependent children. This is because
larger families cannot yet claim Universal Credit and must continue
to claim legacy benefits.
For example, a lone parent with two children loses her job and
tries to claim income support. Because she lives in a full service
area, she will be asked to claim Universal Credit instead. The
Universal Credit she will get will also then replace any tax
credits or housing benefit that she already received. However, if
that parent had three or more children, she wouldn't be able to
claim Universal Credit and would get income support instead.
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.
To find out whether you live in an area where the Universal
Credit full service already applies, use the postcode checker at universalcreditinfo.net
The Universal Credit full service will be rolled out to the last
few remaining jobcentres during December. By 12th December the full
service will apply to all parts of the UK:
From 5th December
From 12th December
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, even if they live in a full service area.
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 live in a Universal Credit
area, 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