What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It replaces a range of benefits, commonly known as "legacy benefits" with a single monthly payment. This makes the transition into work easier by combining in-work and out-of-work benefits.
There are no limits to the number of hours you can work in a week. Your Universal Credit payment will reduce gradually as you earn more, so you should not lose all your benefits at once if you're on a low income.
How much you’ll receive depends on your personal circumstances.
Universal Credit replaces:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
Is help with my Council Tax included in Universal Credit?
Universal Credit does not provide help with your Council Tax payments.
If you are liable to pay Council Tax and need help to pay your bill you can apply for Council Tax Support from your Local Authority.
Who can claim Universal Credit?
From 15 November 2017 most people in Wirral will claim Universal Credit instead of claiming legacy benefits. The exception is people living in, or moving to postcodes CH44 and CH45, who are still able to claim Housing Benefit up to 23 January 2018.
There are some people who will still claim Housing Benefit if they need help with their rent. Those groups are listed below.
If you are a couple and only one of you is pensionable age, you can choose to claim either Housing Benefit as a pensioner couple, or Universal Credit as working age couple. You can also claim Council Tax Support to help pay your Council Tax bill.
People with three or more dependent children
Currently, if you have three or more dependent children you cannot make a claim for Universal Credit, unless you have been receiving Universal Credit within the last six months and have to make a reclaim.
You will need to make a claim for Housing Benefit to help with rent payments and any other legacy benefit for your household circumstances. For example, if you have children you can claim Child and Working Tax Credits.
You can also claim help with your Council Tax when you make your claim.
People living in Specified Accommodation
Specified Accommodation is for people who need help and support and are living in accommodation where the landlord provides care, support and supervision. This support is part of their service charge included in the rent.
If you are living in in Specified Accommodation you can still make a claim for Universal Credit for your living costs, but you will need to claim Housing Benefit to help meet your rent costs. You can also claim Council Tax Support to help pay your Council Tax bill.
How to make a claim for Universal Credit
Before you make a claim you and your partner will need:
- a National Insurance number
- a bank account
- an email address
In readiness for your claim you and your partner will need the following information:
- details of rent costs
- what you earn if you or your partner is working
- childcare costs if you pay them
- savings, capital and any other income you receive for example, Personal Independence Payments, Carers Allowance
What if I need more help?
Making your first claim for Universal Credit
If you need help to make your claim for Universal Credit, you can go to your local Jobcentre Plus.
You will be guided through the online application and shown how to upload and attach any documentation you have to support your claim.
If you become entitled to Universal Credit, you can also claim Free School Meals for children in full time education who live with you and are not foster children.
How can I manage my money?
Personal Budgeting Support
One Stop Shops can provide Personal Budgeting Support to help you manage your monthly Universal Credit payments. You can ask for this at any time and especially when you have made your claim for Universal Credit and are waiting for your first payment.
You can also ask for an advance payment, your identity must have been checked before you can receive this payment. You can ask for an advanced payment at the jobcentre or you can telephone freephone 0800 328 5644.
Most advanced payments are paid as a percentage of your likely entitlement. This money can be paid back over a period of up to 6 months, or if you have previously claimed another benefit before claiming Universal Credit, you can have up to 12 months to repay it.