Universal Credit - an introduction

Universal Credit is a new benefit to support you if you’re working and on a low income or you’re out of work.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a benefit payment for people in or out of work.

It replaces some of the benefits and tax credits you might be getting now:

  • Housing Benefit.
  • Child Tax Credit.
  • Income Support.
  • Working Tax Credit.
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

The DWP calls these legacy benefits.

Universal Credit key facts

Did you know?

You might have to wait up to five weeks before your first payment.

  • If you live in England or Wales and get help with your rent, this will be included in your monthly payment – you’ll then pay your landlord directly.
  • If you live with someone as a couple and you are both entitled to claim UC, you will get a joint payment paid into a single bank account.
  • UC is paid in arrears so it can take up to five weeks after you make your claim to get your first payment.
  • There are no limits on how many hours a week you can work if you’re claiming UC. Instead, the amount you get will gradually reduce as you earn more, so you won’t lose all your benefits at once.
  • You usually have to make your claim online.

 How long does it take to get Universal Credit?

Don’t delay making your claim for Universal Credit and apply as soon as you are entitled to do so as it can take up to five weeks for your first payment to reach your account.

The date you submit your claim is the date of the month your Universal Credit payment will be paid. This is called your assessment date.

Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, so you’ll have to wait one calendar month from the date you submitted your application before your first UC payment is made. This is called your assessment period.

You then have to wait up to seven days for the payment to reach your bank account.

This means it can take up to five weeks before you get your first payment.

Example

  • Ben has lost his job and makes a new claim for Universal Credit on 22 July.
  • This makes his assessment date 22 July. It means he will be paid on the 22 of each month.
  • He needs to wait one assessment period (that’s a calendar month) to 21 August because Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears.
  • He also needs to allow up to seven days for the money to reach his account.
  • He should expect his first payment of Universal Credit no later than 29 August.
  • If 29 August is a bank holiday Monday, he should receive payment on the last working day (Friday) before the holiday.

How often is Universal Credit paid?

Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears in England, Wales and Scotland.

How much is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is made up of a basic allowance plus different elements for things like housing costs, bringing up children, caring or sickness and disability.

The amount you get in Universal Credit can go down or up depending on what income you get from:

  • working
  • a pension
  • other benefits
  • savings and capital above £6,000.

If you would like more information about Universal Credit and how it will affect you visit the Money Advice Service