What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit (UC) is a new benefit that will be paid monthly and it will replace all of the following benefits:
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
UC is being introduced in stages across the country so at the moment, whether or not you can claim UC will depend on your situation and on where you live.
You can receive UC if you have little or no income and a small amount of savings and capital.
UC is being introduced in stages across the country so at the moment, whether or not you can claim UC will depend on your situation and on where you live. There are two kinds of areas: full service areas and live service areas.
Full service areas
If you live in a full service area, all new means-tested claims are for UC and you will be able to claim if you are:
- A single person,
- A couple,
- A parent,
- Disabled or too unwell to work,
- A carer,
- In low-paid work, including being self-employed.
Live service areas
Making a claim before 1 January 2018
Live service areas are sometimes called gateway areas. If you live in a live service area you can only claim if you are a single person aged 18 or over and not:[i]
- unable to work due to illness or disability,
- a carer,
- in full-time education or training, or
- a homeowner.
There are some other reasons that you cannot claim if you live in a live service area. You can read the full list on the gov.uk website:
You can check if you can claim UC on the following websites:
Making a claim after 1 January 2018
From 1 January 2018 you cannot start a new claim for UC in a live service area. If you are already on UC and in a live service area you can continue your claim. But if you are making a new claim in a live service area, you will have to claim a different benefit instead, such as jobseekers allowance.[i]
If you are still unsure whether you can claim in your area you can also call the UC helpline
Telephone: 0345 600 0723
Textphone: 0345 600 0743
Basic conditions of entitlement
There are five conditions you need to meet to get UC, explained below:
Be an adult of working age
You usually need to be 18 or over and below Pension Credit age to get UC. Sometimes you can claim UC if you are aged 16 or 17, but you need to speak to a welfare adviser if you want to find out more.
You can get UC if you are over Pension Credit age and your partner is below Pension Credit age. In this case you can choose whether to apply for UC or Pension Credit. But most couples that can claim Pension Credit are better off on Pension Credit than Universal Credit instead.
Your Pension Credit age depends on when you were born. You can check what your pension credit age is by using this online calculator.
Be habitually resident in the UK
This means you must have the right to live in the UK and plan to stay. If your partner does not meet these rules, you will get a lower rate of UC. If you don’t meet these rules but your partner does then they could apply instead for UC instead of you.
Not be in full-time education
Most students cannot claim UC, although there are some students who can claim, for example, if you have a child or a disability. You need to speak to a welfare adviser if you want to find out more.
Be on a low income and have low savings and capital
UC is a means-tested benefit so this means that any savings, capital and income you have will affect how much you will get paid.
You will only get UC if you have a small amount of savings and capital, and have a low income or no income at all. You can find out more about this in the ‘How will income, savings and property affect my Universal Credit?’ section.
You cannot get UC if you are a:
- Member of a religious order,
- Person serving a prison sentence in a psychiatrist hospital on a section 45A or 47 of the Mental Health Act 1983
How do I claim?
You will need to claim UC online but if you can’t get online, you might be able to claim by phone. Please note that you cannot claim by post.
If you need help claiming UC online, call the UC helpline:
Telephone: 0845 600 0723
Textphone: 0845 600 0743
- What is Universal Credit?
- How much can I get?
- Working or studying
- What if I care for someone or have children?
- What about my housing costs?
- Income, savings and property
- Will the Benefit Cap affect me?
- Universal Credit payments
- The claimant commitment
- Appeal a decision
- When to claim
- Next steps