Applying for Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment introduced by the government to help with your housing and living costs. Claims for Universal Credit are administered by the Department for Work & Pensions and not the Councils.

Most people who are of working age and in or out of work will now need to make any new claims through Universal Credit. It is paid in arrears and replaces:

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income support
  • Working tax credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Housing Benefit for most working-age people

The amount you receive each month will depend on your income, any savings and if you have any children.

You will still need to claim Housing Benefit if you:

  • are of state pension age
  • live in supported or temporary accommodation

Prior to 27th January 2020, if you received the Severe Disability Premium you could make a new claim for Housing Benefit. However, the law has changed and means that if you make a new claim on or after that date you must claim Universal Credit (and not Housing Benefit) unless you are of state pension age or live in supported or temporary accommodation. If you already get Housing Benefit on this date then you will not be affected by this change and can continue claiming Housing Benefit.

Universal Credit can only be claimed online. If you don't have access to the internet to apply and manage your account online you are able to use a computer and access the internet for free at your local library if you are a member.

Joining a library is free:

You can also get online at your local Jobcentre Plus:

Help with your application

If you need help to make a new claim you can get support and additional information from the following organisations:

You can also contact the free Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.

Get an advance on your first payment

Universal Credit is paid monthly into your bank account. It is paid in arrears so you will not receive any money until around 5 weeks after you've submitted your claim.

If you need help to pay your rent and other living costs while you wait for your first payment you can apply for an advance payment. For further information please see:

Paying your rent and Council Tax

If you used to receive Housing Benefit and will now be receiving Universal Credit, your rent will no longer be paid directly to your landlord. This money will now be included within your monthly Universal Credit payment and you will need to use some of that money to pay your landlord directly yourself.

Universal Credit does not include help to pay your Council Tax. You will still need to apply for Council Tax Support.

Information for landlords

To help tenants manage the transition from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit payments and pay their rent, Alternative Payment Arrangements (APAs) have been introduced. These can be requested by the tenant, their representative or the landlord when a tenant is having problems paying their rent.

Further resources:

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Page last updated: 13 August 2021

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