Please note: This information does not apply to Northern Ireland and Scotland where different rules are in place.

Universal Credit is a brand new benefit to support anyone either working and on a low income, or out of work. Currently being rolled out nationwide, Universal credit will be a single monthly payment made to claimants, and will replace the following 6 existing benefits:

  • Income support
  • Income related ESA
  • Income based JSA
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credit

It is expected that the rollout will be completed by the end of 2019, and it will then take a further 4 years for migration of all existing claimants on to Universal Credit. People should continue to claim the individual benefits until such time as they are invited to apply for Universal Credit.

Universal Credit – a general overview

Universal Credit will be paid as one single payment to the household, so if you are part of a couple who can both claim Universal Credit, both claims will be paid as one payment into a single bank account. Usually the housing element will be paid direct to the claimant as opposed to the landlord, although people who struggle to manage money can request an Alternative Payment Arrangement, which will see their rent paid directly to their landlord.

Universal Credit is a digital service, people will be encouraged to apply on line and to maintain their account on line, although the option to apply over the phone will exist. The date your claim is submitted is known as your assessment date, and this will be the date each month that your Universal Credit payment is processed, however, it can take up to 7 days from this date to actually reach your bank account. Therefore, as it is paid in arrears, it can take up to 5 weeks from the date your claim is submitted, until you receive your first payment. Help is available during this period in the form of a repayable benefit advance and a Housing benefit run-on of 2 weeks where applicable.

Universal Credit is based on a standard monthly allowance with other elements added based upon your circumstances. There are various things which can impact on the amount you will receive, for example the amount you earn, how many bedrooms the property has and whether this is deemed to be more than required, whether you care for a disabled child or relative.

Universal Credit – more information

Universal Credit is a complex area and if you would like to find out more, Philip Runciman (welfare benefits adviser at Nestor) has recorded an information session for us, which can be viewed below. This webinar runs for 20 minutes.

Philip Runciman is a welfare benefits adviser at Nestor. Nestor are independent financial advisers and associate members of Brain Injury Group. Prior to working for Nestor, Philip worked for the Department of Work and Pensions, and now undertakes benefit reviews, appeals, tribunals and provides general benefits advice on behalf of Nestor.