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. 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 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.

Find out more about Housing Benefit

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

Make a claim for Universal Credit online
You can use a mobile phone, a tablet, or a computer at various One Stop Shop libraries, Jobcentres and community-based groups.

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 can drop in to Birkenhead One Stop Shop and Seacombe One Stop Shop or make an appointment at any other One Stop Shop.

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. 

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.

Request a Personal Budgeting Support Appointment

Find out more about managing money

Advance 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 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.