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Universal Credit


Universal Credit

The current system of Benefits and Tax Credits for working-age customers means that you usually have to make separate claims for each one. So some existing Benefits are gradually being replaced by one new Benefit called Universal Credit that will be administered by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP).

The short video below gives you an introduction to Universal Credit:

Further details are available:

and there is also a short video about the step by step process on YouTube:

Customers claiming Universal Credit will find the process easier if they have already verified their identity via the GOV.UK website.

Previously, in Adur and Worthing Universal Credit only affected some single people but from 4th July 2018 it affects the majority of working age customers throughout the area.

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people who are both in and out of work and on a low income. It combines some of the Benefits and tax credits that you might be getting now and will replace:

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment & Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit for most working age customers

Universal credit does not affect pensioners.

An introductory guide explaining what Universal Credit could mean for you has been produced by the Department for Work & Pensions - see:

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Am I eligible?

If you're already claiming the Benefits that will be combined into Universal Credit you don't need to do anything. The DWP will contact you when Universal Credit will affect you.

You can check whether you can claim Universal Credit on the eligibility pages - on the GOV.UK website.

You can get an estimate of the amount of Universal Credit that you may be entitled to - on the Policy in Practice website.

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Universal Credit is paid monthly into a bank account of your choice to one person in the household. It can also be paid to another organisation like the Credit Union (website) - further information is available about choosing a bank account for your benefit payments is on the - on the Money Advice Service website.

You may also find the Squirrel App useful to help with budgeting.

The amount you get depends on your circumstances including:

  • Your income
  • Your savings
  • How many children you have

It is currently likely take at least 5 or 6 weeks before you get your first payment, but you can ask for an advanced payment (called a Budgeting Advance) if you don't have enough money to last that long - see:

If your application is successful you'll be contacted by the DWP to arrange an interview at a Job Centre to complete your application. This is sometimes called a 'work search interview' or a 'claimant commitment interview' and you'll be seen by a member of staff who'll become your 'work coach'.

You'll meet your work coach regularly so that they can support you and help you find a job. The purpose of the interview is to:

  • Check you are who you say you are
  • Help you understand how Universal Credit works and what will happen next
  • Come up with a plan to improve your work situation, e.g. to get training or find a job
  • Arrange what you have to do in return for getting Universal Credit, e.g. how many hours you need to spend looking for work each week. This is called a 'claimant commitment' and you'll have to sign it
  • Find out whether you need any support with budgeting

The interview isn't an interrogation and you're not on trial - it's a two-way conversation between you and your work coach.

Once you have submitted your claim you will be provided with details of the documents that you'll need to take with you to the interview to prove that the details in your application are correct. These will be copied and given back to you.

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How to claim

To claim Universal Credit you will need to Apply for Universal Credit using the online portal on the GOV.UK website.

This means that you'll need access to the Internet. If you don't have access to a computer, further information about:

If you're concerned about internet security, information and advice can be found on the Get Safe Online website.

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Help with rent and Council Tax

If you would have previously needed help with your rent by claiming Housing Benefit from the Council, this will now be included in your monthly Universal Credit payment that's calculated by the DWP and is known as the 'Housing Costs Element'.

From 1st April 2017 some customers aged 18 to 21 will not be entitled to the 'Housing Costs Element' of Universal Credit. Further information is available on Housing costs for 18 to 21 year olds on the GOV.UK website

The rules for Housing Benefit mean that some customers have their payments sent directly to their landlord. However, under the rules for Universal Credit most customers will have the Housing Costs Element paid to themselves which means that as a tenant you'll be responsible for using this money to pay your rent to your landlord.

In some circumstances the Housing Costs Element can be made directly to your landlord, for example if you have rent arrears, are under threat of eviction or you find it difficult to manage payments.

Help with Council Tax is not included in Universal Credit and you will still need to make a claim for Council Tax Support with the Council's Revenues & Benefits Service, see:

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Information for landlords

The move to tenants receiving monthly household payments that include the Housing Costs Element of Universal Credit is a significant change compared to the separate Housing Benefit payments that have previously been paid.

As a consequence, Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs) have been introduced to provide extra help for tenants:

  • Where there's a risk of financial harm to the claimant or their family; or
  • In order to safeguard the claimant's home

APAs can be considered at any point during the life of a Universal Credit claim and can be requested by the claimant, their representative or the landlord. An APA can be made when:

  • A claimant has rent arrears totalling at least two month's rent
  • A claimant has continually underpaid their rent over a period of time and they currently have at least one month of arrears

Most landlords must request an APA by completing a 'UC47 None-secure' form that's available on the GOV.UK website. Completed forms should be emailed to Once the form is received the DWP will contact the landlord to obtain the relevant payment details.

Other information about what Universal Credit means for both private landlords and housing associations is available under Universal Credit and rented housing - on the GOV.UK website.

The Department for Work & Pensions has also produced a document containing top tips for landlords, which is available below:

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Further help and advice

The online Planning Tool Getting ready for Universal Credit provided by the DWP can help you to prepare for making a claim for Universal Credit. By providing answers to some basic questions it will tell you how ready you are for Universal Credit and will give advice about what you need to do next and the best sources of advice that are available.

You can contact the Freephone Universal Credit helpline from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday using the relevant number below:

  • whole of Worthing and the western half of Adur: 0800 328 9344
    (this number should be used for the whole of Worthing and the western half of Adur that's covered by Worthing Job Centre)
  • eastern half of Adur: 0800 328 5644
    (this number should be used for the eastern half of Adur that's covered by Hove Job Centre)

Further information and advice about Universal Credit is also available on the Money Advice Service website.

Getting help and advice can make all the difference to managing your money. The Councils are working with the DWP and other organisations, including Citizens Advice in West Sussex (North, South,East), to make sure that you have access to the right support when you need it.

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