Termed the ‘social security payment’ scheme in the United Kingdom, Universal Credit is a means-based, single monthly payment, explicitly created for the working-age people who are out of work, cannot work or have a low household income/job. It also includes support for childcare, children, costs of housing, disabled people and carers.
As a result, Universal Credit is aimed to make the welfare system simpler by replacing and combining the following set of six tax credits and benefits, namely Working Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Child Tax Credit, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Hence, if you’re already obtaining any of the above-mentioned tax credits or benefits (otherwise known as legacy benefits), then nothing changes in your life. You will continue obtaining the legacy benefits, provided you do not have a change in circumstance, for which you need to report to the government bureau; or you do not receive a letter called the ‘Migration Notice’ from the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) in the UK, thereby telling you to start claiming Universal Credit.
Once you or your partner claims Universal Credit, all of the above-mentioned legacy benefits will stop immediately. It should be known that Universal Credit will not affect other benefits such as Carer’s Allowance and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Know the Eligibility & Requirements
To be eligible for claiming Universal Credit, you must satisfy the following conditions:
- You are on low income, out of work or cannot work because of a specific health condition.
- You are aged 18 or over (certain exceptions if you’re aged 16 or 17).
- You or your partner/spouse is under the State Pension age.
- You or your partner/spouse have 16,000 UK Pounds or less in terms of savings.
- You are living in the United Kingdom.
When you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, to obtain Universal Credit, you and your family might need to have a pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. When you’re living with your partner, a joint household claim must be made by you and your partner, even if your partner is ineligible. The amount of Universal Credit that can be claimed will depend on you as well as your partner’s income and savings.
Even if one of you or your partner reaches the State Pension age, Universal Credit can still be claimed as a couple, unless both of you and your partner reach the State Pension age. When you’re training or studying, Universal Credit can be claimed if you’re in full-time education and satisfy any of the following conditions: you’re living with your partner who is applicable for Universal Credit; you’re taking care of a child either as a single or as a couple; or you’ve reached the State Pension age but your partner didn’t.
Furthermore, if you’re aged 21 or under and have been studying any qualification that’s up to A level or its equivalent, without any parental support, then you can also claim Universal Credit. Additionally, Universal Credit may also be eligible for you if you’re doing a course or studying part-time, for which no finance or student loan is available.
If you’re pursuing full-time education and have been assessed as having limited capability for work by the Work Capability Assessment, before starting your course, then you can claim Universal Credit. Moreover, you also must be entitled to any one of the following benefits, such as Attendance allowance, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Child Disability Payment (CDP) [in Scotland], Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Adult Disability Payment (ADP) [in Scotland] and Armed Forces Independence Payment.
When you’re aged 16 or 17, Universal Credit can be claimed if any of the following conditions are satisfied: You have a disability or a medical condition with supporting medical evidence; You’re currently caring for a severely disabled individual; You’re currently responsible for caring for a child; You’re currently living with your partner, who is eligible for Universal Credit, and have to bear responsibility for a child; You’re currently pregnant and expecting a baby in the next eleven weeks; You’ve had a baby within the last fifteen weeks; and you have no support from your parents.
How to Claim Universal Credit
To claim Universal Credit, you need to first fill out the online form here. The claim must be completed within 28 days of making an account; otherwise, you have to restart the process. In case you live with your partner, then both of you need to create separate accounts and then link them when claiming. Thus, the claim cannot be made by a single partner.
For the online application, you will need your bank and building society/credit union account details, your email address along with your phone number. For proving your identity you’ll need your driving license, your P60 or payslip, your passport and your credit or debit card.
Additionally, to complete your claim, information must be provided about your housing, such as the rent you pay; your earnings through your payslips; your health conditions or disability(s) that affect your capability of doing work; your childcare expenses, in case you need assistance with childcare costs and about your investments and savings.
Besides, the Universal Credit bureau can ask for a face-to-face appointment, if they cannot verify your identity online or require further information.
Benefits of Universal Credit
Talking about the benefits, Universal Credit makes it easier for you to start a new job or work for more hours since as your home pay increases, Universal Credit will get decreased gradually. As a result, such a gradual process helps you obtain your financial independence over time while eliminating any financial risk that comes with taking up a job. Furthermore, a payment scheme like this allows you and the UK government to create a two-way relationship, where each party will fulfil their responsibilities.
Additionally, since Universal Credit is paid monthly and is directly credited into the account that has been chosen for the same, just like the way most salaries are paid, you’ll be able to maintain and manage a monthly budget effortlessly.
How to Contact
To contact support staff, you can reach out to the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) that has its headquarters located at Caxton House, Tothill Street, Westminster, London SW1H 9NA. For queries or help on phone, you can dial 0800 328 5644.