The Government has started to replace a number of existing benefits with a single benefit called Universal Credit - find out what Universal Credit replaces, when and where it is being introduced, plus how to claim it and what to do if you are unhappy with the result of your claim.
Universal Credit is a new means-tested benefit for people of working age that the Government hopes will make claiming benefits simpler. It attempts to make sure you will always be better off in work than on benefits.
Universal Credit replaces the following means-tested benefits:
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) administers all Universal Credit claims.
The DWP is introducing Universal Credit gradually until 2017. At the moment, only certain categories of claimants in certain areas of the country are able to make new claims for Universal Credit.
At some point during 2016 to 2017, the Government intends that Universal Credit will be fully available to new claimants across all Jobcentre Plus offices. If you already receive one of the benefits that Universal Credit replaces, it is only from around this time that the DWP will begin to move you over to Universal Credit. The DWP aims to move everyone over by the end of 2017, however their plan for doing this has already changed a number of times, so this date could change. We shall update this page if this happens.
The DWP pays Universal Credit monthly and makes one payment for each household directly into a bank account. If your claim is successful, the DWP will pay you a standard allowance plus any additional elements that apply to you. You should receive your first payment around five weeks after your claim.
The standard allowances from April 2014 are:
Additional elements depend on your household's circumstances. They include a:
We give more information on specific amounts available for each element in our Universal Credit factsheet:
The DWP has recognised that, in exceptional cases, a single monthly payment may not be suitable for some people. For these people, the DWP will make split payments. You might belong to this group if you are a vulnerable tenant who will have your housing element of Universal Credit paid direct to your landlord, for example. For all other claimants, the monthly payment will include your housing costs.
The DWP is encouraging as many people as possible to make and manage their claim for Universal Credit online. They have confirmed that their online system will meet guidelines for accessibility and so should work with magnification and screen reading technology on computers and other devices.
If you cannot access the internet and make your claim online, or feel that you need more support to do this, there are other ways for you to make your claim:
If you dispute the decision made on your Universal Credit claim and would like the DWP to look at their decision again, you can ask for a reconsideration.
If, after the DWP have reconsidered their decision, you are still unhappy, you can then lodge an appeal with HM Courts & Tribunal Service.
Find out more about the process and timescales for benefits appeals.
Use our benefits calculator to check which benefits you are entitled to. Our calculator will ask you some questions about your circumstances and then tell you how exactly much you could be missing out on.Use the benefits calculator