Universal Credit (UC) is the new welfare benefit for people of working age who need help with housing and living costs. Universal Credit is combining six existing welfare benefits into one new one. This includes replacing jobseeker’s allowance, tax credits, and housing benefit. This new benefit is ‘means-tested’, so your income and savings need to be below a certain amount before you can claim it.
If you need help applying, you can call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644, Textphone: 0800 328 1344. Monday-Friday, 8.00am - 6.00pm. Calls to these numbers are free.
UC is usually paid monthly, but you should be able to request for it to be paid fortnightly.
You won’t get any payments for five of six weeks after you’ve applied for Universal Credit. The DWP should ask you if you’ll need any help during this time before you get your first payment of UC.
The DWP can give you an advanced payment to tide you over while you’re waiting, but this would just be a loan. You won’t have to pay any interest on this loan. The DWP will take back re-payments out of your UC every month for a few months, until you have paid back all of the loan. You have to contact your local Jobcentre to ask for an advanced payment.
It can be difficult just applying for Universal Credit, but you can get benefits advice from The Brain Charity, and from these organisations listed here.
- How do I claim Universal Credit? (Disability Rights UK)
- Citizens Adice have a free Help to Claim service, Monday-Friday, 8.00am - 6.00pm on 0800 144 8 444, in Wales 08000 241 220, in Scotland 0800 023 2582.
Problems with accessibility
- About Universal Credit (Easy Read) (Gov.uk)
- If you can't apply online (Citizens Advice) Scroll down their 'Starting your Universal Credit claim' page for advice.
- If you can't read or write you might be able to apply for Universal Credit over the phone.
- The Universal Credit Textphone number is 0345 600 0743
- You can ask for Gov.uk documents in BSL.
Problems with sanctions
- Coronavirus emergency: Guidance on when video or telephone hearings may be appropriate for tribunals (Disability Rights UK)
- Benefit sanctions and what to do about them (Money Advice Service)
what to do if your benefits have been stopped or cut due to a benefit sanction, including how to apply for a hardship payment and other help until your payments start again
- Universal Credit Sanctions (Turn2Us)
what if you don't think you should have been sanctioned
- What to do if you've been sanctioned while on Universal Credit (Citizens Advice)
- Appeal a benefit decision (Gov.uk)
- Challenge a benefit decision (mandatory reconsideration) (Gov.uk)