Universal Credit

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit replaces a number of benefits, including Housing Benefit, with one single monthly payment for your household. This means a big change in the way benefits are paid.

Universal Credit will replace the following payments:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit


Am I eligible for Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is available to single people nationally and to couples/families in some areas of the country. If you’re a family with three or more children, you won’t go on to Universal Credit and will be able to claim your benefits as you do currently until November 2018.

UC is being introduced in stages and whether you can claim will depend on your personal circumstances and where you live.

Here’s a list of Jobcentres where couples and families can claim Universal Credit.
Here’s a list of local authorities and jobcentre areas that will move to the full Universal Credit service.

If you're between 18 and 21 years old, you may not be entitled to help with your housing costs when you make a new claim for Universal Credit. To find out if you're eligible for help with your housing costs, please go to gov.uk website.



How do I apply for Universal Credit?

You can apply for Universal Credit online. You can also watch a video about how to claim.

You might need to attend an interview at your local JobcentrePlus but you’ll find out about this after you’ve applied.


How different is Universal Credit?

You’ll be paid some or all of the money for your rent every month, rather than it coming directly to us in the form of Housing Benefit. You’ll need to then pay your rent to us on time to avoid going into arrears. There are several ways you can pay.

You’ll get your first payment roughly six weeks after applying, so you’ll need to make sure you have money in place to manage the transition period, or arrange for extra support during this time. Download our ‘Do you need help with Universal Credit?’ fact sheet to find out the options available.


How can I get ready for Universal Credit?

  • Set up a bank account, or a joint account if you haven’t got one already. Universal Credit will be paid into this. Even if you have a poor credit record, you should be able to do this as long as you can show some ID. With a basic bank account you’ll get a debit card and be able to pay your rent and other bills by direct debit.
  • You’ll also need an email address before you can make your claim. If you don’t already use email, it’s easy to set up an account online.
  • Make sure you’ll be able to access and use your online Universal Credit account. This might be at your local library or Sovereign office, or you can find about more about getting internet access and discounted IT equipment.
  • Plan your budget and arrange extra support if you’ll need it before your first Universal Credit payment arrives. Our handy budget planner and fact sheet will help you to work out your spending and set yourself targets if you need to cut down in a particular area.
  • Set up a direct debit for your rent or a reminder to pay it in advance once Housing Benefit is no longer paid directly to us.
  • Read this useful introduction to Universal Credit by the Independent Money Advice Service.


Where can I get help with Universal Credit and managing my payments?

If you think you’ll struggle to manage financially, please call 0300 777 7837. Our Income team are ready to help you.

If you’re interested in speaking to one of our tenancy support advisors, please call us on the number above and we’ll refer you.

There’s also some helpful information on the government’s budgeting support webpage.


More information about Universal Credit

  • If you need an overview of Universal Credit, the government website has lots more information.
  • The Department of Work and Pensions also has a comprehensive guide to Universal Credit.
  • Universal Credit will be paid into your bank account monthly. You’ll then need to pay your rent to us from this amount.
  • Universal Credit is designed to help individuals and families on low income find a job or increase their hours. We’ve helped many residents achieve their work goals and we can help you do the same. Get in touch with our Employment and Training team to find out more.


Our Universal Credit downloads

  • Spectrum House, Grange Road,
    Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 4GE
  • 0300 777 7837
  • contact@sovereign.org.uk
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