Universal Credit

Published , updated

Universal Credit is the biggest change in a generation to how benefit claimants receive payments. 

It is designed to replace a number of existing benefits with a single monthly payment which goes directly into your bank account, including payments to help with your rent.

Who will be affected?

Working age customers who claim the following benefits:

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

Universal Credit is now happening in every area of the UK, for all new claims for benefit and where you have had a change of circumstances. There is one exception - any person receiving the Severe Disability Premium is excluded from applying for Universal Credit.

The number of children you have no longer affects your eligibility for Universal Credit, but it may affect how much you get. Since 1 February 2019 households with more than 2 children can apply for Universal Credit.

From 15 May 2019, if you are making a joint claim for benefit, each person in the couple will need to be of Pension Credit qualifying age to qualify for Pension Credit; otherwise you will have to apply for Universal Credit, where one member is still of working age.

The Department of Work and Pensions will start moving over all other benefit claimants to the full service from July 2019 with a view to completion by March 2023.

You can also use these benefit calculators to see what you might be entitled to.

How do I make a claim?

The following GOV.UK film below explains everything you need to know about how to make a claim.

Claiming for Universal Credit can only be done online at www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit. If you don’t have online access you should be able to get access at your local library, Jobcentre Plus or by visiting your local council offices.

To put in a claim you will need lots of information about yourself and your tenancy. This includes information about:

  • your bank, building society or credit union account details (call the Universal Credit helpline if you do not have one)
  • an email address
  • your National Insurance number
  • information about your housing, for example how much rent you pay
  • details of your income, for example payslips
  • details of savings and any investments, like shares or a property that you rent out
  • details of how much you pay for childcare if you’re applying for help with childcare costs

After you apply, you must contact your local Jobcentre Plus within 7 days to make an appointment with a work coach.

You will not get Universal Credit if you do not attend the appointment

There will usually be at least a five week delay between making your claim and receiving your first Universal Credit payment.

If you won’t have enough money to live on and pay your rent while you wait for your first payment, you can ask your Job centre work coach for an advance payment. You’ll repay it through your regular Universal Credit payments – they’ll be lower until you pay it back.

Remember: when you are asked “Do you pay rent for the home where you live?” you MUST answer “Yes”, if your rent is currently covered by Housing Benefit. If you fail to do so, your claim will NOT include a rent element and any subsequent appeal may not necessarily mean that the rent element is backdated to the date of your initial claim. To get help with your council tax payments you need to contact your local Authority to apply for council support.

How will I be paid?

Payments will be made once a month, into your bank or building society. This means that if your rent was previously paid directly to us, it will now be paid into your bank account and arrangements need to be made to pay that rent to us.

You’ll need to arrange a Direct Debit payment, set up to come out of your bank account the same day that you receive your Universal Credit payment.

You will be required to pay the entire rent amount due to Derwent Living, not just the amount of housing element you receive in your Universal Credit payment.If you are not sure how much this is, you can view your rent amount in your online account or by contacting our team on 01332 614900. To make the payments automatically, we advise that you set up a Direct Debit - which can be done easily online.

Are you prepared?

Before you go onto Universal Credit, you may need to think about the following checklist in order to make your application as smooth as possible.

  • Make sure you have online access or know where you can get access when you need to make your application
  • Have a bank account that lets you set up a Direct Debit so you can receive your payment and pay your rent
  • You are in advance with your rent payments or are paying extra each week to get in advance

If you are concerned about how Universal Credit will affect you, please contact our Income Team on 01332 614900 (income enquiries only). We can discuss your situation in confidence and help you prepare for how universal credit will impact you and your rent payments.

For everything you need to know about Universal Credit please visit www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk

To make a claim for Universal Credit, please visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit

Don’t risk your home

Once Universal Credit comes in, your rent will no longer be paid directly to us via Housing Benefit and you will be responsible for prioritising your rent from the single payment. Your home is at risk if you do not ensure your rent is paid on time.