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This guide is available as a download:
What is it?
Universal Credit is a means tested benefit for adults with a low income.
It replaces six existing benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
The idea behind UC is it is simpler to claim and administer than the previous systems.
It is paid on a monthly basis and is designed to emulate a monthly pay check, to allow people to move from UC to paid employment and back with less disruption to their budgeting.
UC is being introduced gradually, some claimants in Worcestershire already receive it and the rest will be moved on to it in late 2018. Malvern starts in September and Worcester in October.
If you currently claim other benefits you will be told when the change will happen by the DWP.
Universal Credit replaces the six benefits listed above and has designed to work alongside the following benefits:
- Attendance Allowance
- Basic State Pension
- Carer’s Allowance
- Child Benefit
- Disability Living Allowance
- Industrial Injuries Benefits
- Local Council Tax support schemes
- Local Welfare Provision
- New State Pension
- Pension Credit
- Personal Independence Payment
- contributory Jobseeker’s Allowance
- contributory Employment Support Allowance
- Bereavement benefits
- Maternity Allowance
- Statutory Sick Pay
- Statutory Maternity Pay
- Statutory Paternity Pay
- Statutory Adoption Pay
Some people will be entitled to both contributory benefit and Universal Credit, contributory benefits will be administered using the existing systems.
How much will I receive?
The amount you will get depends on the income and circumstances of all the household members. To get an estimate of what you may be entitled to when you claim Universal Credit you can use the Turn2Us Benefits Calculator.
Universal Credit Basic Allowance
Your basic allowance will depend on whether you are single or claiming as a couple, and your age.
- There is one basic allowance for your household:
- Single claimant aged under 25: £251.77 per month
- Single claimant aged 25 or over: £317.82 per month
- Joint claimants both aged under 25: £395.20 per month
- Joint claimants either aged 25 or over: £498.89 per month
Universal Credit additional elements
There are additional elements that can be added to your basic allowance. Your household may qualify for more than one of these:
- Housing costs element
- Child element
- Childcare costs element
- Limited capability for work-related activity element (LCWRA element)
- Carer element
The total amount including housing and other elements varies from person to person and on your location, but it will not be less than the total of benefits you already receive.
How will be I paid?
Universal Credit is paid as a single payment once a month in arrears, it includes all the elements you are entitle to, including your rent, unless you are £2000 in arrears, then your landlord can ask for this to be paid directly to them. You no longer have the choice to have your rent paid directly to them if you have less than £2000 arrears. It is paid into a single bank/building society account.
Universal Credit Additional Elements
A child element will be included in a Universal Credit award where a claimant is responsible for a child or qualifying young person who normally lives with them.
You receive a higher element for a first or only child of £277.08 per month if you are responsible for a child born before 6 April 2017. Otherwise you receive a child element of £231.67 per month per child.
If you are currently getting Universal Credit you will not be paid a child element for a third or subsequent child born on or after 6 April 2017, unless an exception applies.
A disabled child addition is awarded if the criteria is met. There are 2 rates of disabled child addition, only one is included in the award for each child:
Lower rate – payable where a child is entitled to any rate of disability living allowance or personal independence payment, currently £126.11 a month.
Higher rate – payable where a child is entitled to the highest rate of the care component of disability living allowance OR the enhanced daily living component of the personal independence payment. It is also payable where a child is registered blind, currently £383.86 a month.
You can still receive a disabled child addition for a third or subsequent child, even if you cannot get the child element for that child.
Child Care Costs Element
If all adult claimants are working or are have limited capability for work or limited capability for work related activity, or has regular and substantial caring responsibilities for a severely disabled person, or is temporarily absent from your household (for example, they are in prison/hospital/or residential care) you are entitle to a proportion of your child care costs. As long as this is not funded by an employer, some other person or other relevant support (such as other Government funding for childcare).
You will get 85% of your childcare costs met, up to a maximum of £646.35 per month for one child and £1108.04 per month for two or more children.
Capability for Work Elements
The LCWWRA element is included in the maximum amount if the claimant has a limited capability for work and work related activity. The rules are similar to those for ESA. Only one element can be included in a joint claim even if both claimants meet the criteria and the claimant cannot get the LCWWRA element and the carer element if they are the one who satisfy the criteria for both.
The element may not be payable immediately and can be subject to a three month determination period during which the DWP decides whether the claimant does have limited capability for work or whether they should get the LCWWRA instead. Some people are exempt from the requirement to wait three months.
This is paid at £328.32 per month.
If you are caring for a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours a week you can get this addition of £156.45 per month. You do not have to claim Carer’s Allowance to get this element. Unlike Carers Allowance, a person can still receive the Carers Element of Universal Credit, no matter how much they earn.
If you are making a joint claim you can get a carer element each if you both qualify for it, but you cannot be caring for the same severely disabled person.
Housing costs element
The housing cost element of Universal Credit replaces Housing Benefit, if you already receive Housing Benefit this will now be paid directly to you instead of having the option to pay this to your landlord. It will now be your responsibly to pay this to your landlord. The only exception to this is if you have arrears of £2000 or more. Click here for more information.
Claiming Universal Credit
You can make a claim for Universal Credit Online here.
If you do not have internet access at home you may be able to apply online using a computer at your local job centre, council office or library.
If you are unable to use a computer you can claim by phone on the following numbers:
Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
After you have submitted your claim you will have to attend a face-to-face interview at your local Jobcentre to prove your identity and agree a claimant commitment. This will set out what you have to do in order to continue to receive Universal Credit. Joint claimants must both agree a claimant commitment in order to receive Universal Credit.
The start date of the claim is the date that the claim is submitted, as long as the claimant commitment is signed.
Under exceptional circumstances a claim can be backdated by up to one month. These include if you were not informed you needed to move from Jobseekers or ESA or if you were unwell and have medical proof.