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?
Most people in Wirral will claim Universal Credit instead of claiming legacy benefits.
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. From 15 May 2019 you will only be able to claim Universal Credit if one of you is working age and your partner reaches pensionable age, unless you are entitled to a severe disability premium or are in one of the groups mentioned below.
You can also claim Council Tax Support to help pay your Council Tax bill.
People entitled to a severe disability premium
People who are entitled to a severe disability premium within their benefits, can also claim Housing Benefit if they need help with their rent payments.
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 or supervision. This support is part of their service charge included in the rent.
If you are living 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.
People living in Temporary Accommodation
People claiming Universal Credit who have been placed in temporary accommodation by the local authority will need to claim Housing Benefit to help with their housing costs.
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 help with my claim?
If you need help to make your claim for Universal Credit, you can go to your local Citizens Advice Wirral or 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 may be eligible for Free School Meals for children in full time education who live with you and are not foster children, depending on how much you receive if you or your partner is working.
Discretionary Housing payments
If you receive housing costs payments in Universal Credit and are struggling to pay your rent, you can apply for additional financial support from Discretionary Housing Payments.
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 Plus 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 12 months.