For those who need assistance with living expenses and housing costs, a monthly Universal Credit payment is often available. Usually payable to one person in the household, this payment is provided to help support partners and dependent children too.
First of all, you should claim Housing benefit if you and your partner are:
- Of pension age
- Working age and living in Supported Accommodation
- Working age and living in Temporary Accommodation under the Homeless Person Act, or
- You’re entitled to Severe Disability Premium
If you meet this criteria you can apply for Housing Benefit via the form.
Eligibility for Universal Credit
If you don’t fall into one of the categories above, you may be eligible for Universal Credit. Support for rental costs is paid through Universal Credit.
If you’re not sure about applying for Universal Credit and wish to learn more about it, please see the following guidance employment and benefits support
New claims and Council Tax Support
If you’re making a new Universal Credit claim, you can claim Council Tax Support at the same time. To do this, you must indicate that you pay Council Tax on your Universal Credit application and we’ll then automatically receive your Council Tax Support Claim.
Once your Universal Credit has been processed, your Council Tax Reduction claim will be processed simultaneously.
If you require help with your Council Tax, please email benefits and provide your name and National Insurance number.
If your Universal Credit claim is refused, you will need to apply for Council Tax Support. Please see the Council Tax support page.
What to do to claim Universal Credit
You can apply for Universal Credit online via the Government’s Universal Credit Website
Just be aware – when applying for Universal Credit, you can’t save your application and come back to it; you must allow time to complete your full application. Also, if you’re inactive for more than 20 minutes, your session will be timed out and you will have to start your application again. So, make sure you have the time to apply in one go. It should take 20 to 40 minutes to complete your claim.
When applying for Universal Credit you will need the following:
- Your postcode
- Your National Insurance number
- Details of the bank, building society, or credit union account you want your Universal Credit paid into
- Your rent agreement (if you have one)
- Details of your savings or other capital
- Details of any income that’s not from work, eg from an insurance plan
- Details of any other benefits you’re getting.
You might also need these details for other people who live in your home, eg your partner.
Do not delay making your claim for Universal Credit as claims are not normally backdated.
If you’re successful, you’ll usually get your first payment five weeks after you made your claim.
What is different about Universal Credit?
The main differences between Universal Credit and the current welfare system are:
- Universal Credit replaces six former benefits: Housing benefit, Income Support, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax credits, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, and Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
- Universal Credit is available to people who are in work and on a low income, as well as to those who are out of work.
- Most people will apply online and manage their claim through an online account
- Universal Credit is responsive, as people on low incomes move in and out of work, they’ll get ongoing support – giving people more incentive to work for any period of time that is available.
- Most claimants on low incomes will still be paid Universal Credit when they first start a new job or increase their part-time hours.
- Claimants receive one monthly payment in arrears and this is paid into a bank account like a monthly salary.
- Support with housing costs goes directly to the claimant as part of their monthly payment
- Some employers will report changes in their employee earnings directly to HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenues & Customs), using Real Time Information software (RTI) meaning that for some claimants Universal Credit could be recalculated automatically when earnings go up or down.
Payment of Universal Credit
If waiting for your first Universal Credit Payment places you in financial hardship, you can apply for an interest-free advanced payment of Universal Credit. This is classed as a loan until your first payment of Universal Credit is paid. This payment will then be recovered over 12 months through deductions to your future Universal Credit payments.
COVID-19 and Universal Credit
From Government guidance, it is advised that those affected financially by COVID-19 should apply for Universal Credit. This will assist you with your living and housing costs.
This guidance applies to furloughed workers, self-employed, zero-hours contract workers, and people who are self-isolating.
For more information go to the benefits update COVID-19 page.
Universal Credit and rented housing
The Department for Work and Pensions publishes Universal Credit and rented housing: guide for landlords. It provides private and social sector landlords with information about Universal Credit to help them understand what they can do to help their tenants.