Universal Credit is a mean-tested benefit for people of working age only, who are on a low income or unemployed.

It is intended to simplify the current benefit system by introducing one monthly payment instead of the current system where payments can be received from different sources and at different frequencies.

Entitlement to Universal Credit is calculated by comparing your financial resources with the amount the government states you need to live on.

Who can claim Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a working age benefit and therefore can not be claimed by anyone who has reached state pension credit age.

The minimum age for claiming Universal Credit is 16 years of age. If you are 16 or 17 you must meet the following criteria:

  • you have limited capability for work or you have medical evidence and are waiting for a Work Capability Assessment
  • you’re caring for a severely disabled person
  • you’re responsible for a child
  • you’re in a couple with responsibility for at least one child and your partner is eligible for Universal Credit
  • you’re pregnant and it’s 11 weeks or less before your expected week of childbirth
  • you’ve had a child in the last 15 weeks
  • you do not have parental support, for example you’re estranged from your parents and you’re not under local authority care.

What Universal Credit is replacing

Universal Credit is replacing:

  • child tax credit
  • housing benefit
  • income support
  • income-based jobseekers allowance
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • working tax credits

If you are currently claiming any of the above benefits, you don’t need to do anything now. The Department for Work and Pensions will get in touch with you before there are any changes to your benefits or tax credits and before they are transferred to Universal Credit.

If you are currently claiming any of the above benefits and your circumstances change, it may mean that you will no longer be able to claim those benefits and will need to submit an application for Universal Credit.

Universal Credit does not include help to pay your council tax, you will still need to claim council tax support.

How to claim Universal Credit

You will be required to apply for Universal Credit online and then attend an interview in person

You cannot backdate your Universal Credit claim so it is important that you make your claim as soon as possible.