U is for Universal Credit

Date published: 12th February 2021

niversal Credit – What is it?

Universal Credit (UC) is a means tested benefit for people of a working age. You may be able to get Universal Credit if you are on a low income, out of work or cannot work. The payment is made up of a basic 'standard allowance' and extra payments that might apply to you depending on your circumstances.

You might be able to get extra payments if you:

  • look after one or more children
  • work and pay for childcare
  • need help with housing costs
  • are disabled or have a health condition
  • are a carer for a disabled person or you have a disabled child

How do payments work?

Universal Credit is paid monthly into your bank, building society or credit union account but you can choose to have it paid fortnightly. For further information on changing how often you are paid click here.

How do I apply?

You will usually have to apply online. If you do not have regular access to a computer or WIFI, or are not confident using a computer or smartphone then you may be able to make a phone claim instead.

You will need to apply as couple if you and your partner live together, you do not have to be married.

To claim online you can must complete the online application form. Before you start you will need:

• Your bank, building society or credit union account number, if you do not have a bank account, call the Universal Credit helpline for assistance on 0800 328 5644.
• An email address
• Information about your housing for example how much rent you pay
• Details of your income, for example payslips
• Details of any savings, investments – like shares or property that you rent out
• Details of how much you pay for childcare, if you are applying for assistance with childcare costs.

If you are unable to apply online, you can make a telephone claim by calling the Department of Works & Pensions (DWP) on 0800 328 5644; you will need your bank, building society or credit union account number and details of how much rent you pay.
Whether you apply online or by telephone, you will also be asked to provide answers to two security questions for example “where you were born or the name of your first pet”. It is advisable to keep a note of your answers in a secure place as these cannot be changed. Do not let anyone else have your log in details or answers to your security questions.

What if I am already claiming benefits?

Universal Credit is replacing the following benefits:

  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income related Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)

If you are currently receiving any of these benefits you do not need to do anything unless there is change in your circumstances that trigger a move to Universal Credit. This is called natural migration. For further information on what changes may trigger a move to UC, click here.

If you haven’t had a change of circumstances, you won’t usually need to claim Universal Credit until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) contacts you about moving to Universal Credit.  This is called managed migration.

The Help to Claim Service

If you are thinking about claiming Universal Credit for the first time our trained advisers can guide you through the process. The service is available for anyone who needs support in making an online or telephone claim and be accessed at any time until the first full correct payment of Universal Credit is in place. Advisers can help with:

  • Quick questions - answering queries as you make your own claim
  • Internet access - giving you internet to help make your claim
  • Support to submit your claim - setting up email and bank accounts if needed, and working through claim ‘to-dos’
  • Support to first payment - helping you apply for additional financial support and prepare for work coach appointments
  • Evidence checking - making sure all your claim evidence is correct

If you require assistance applying for Universal Credit, please contact Citizens Advice and Rights Fife on 0345 1400 095 or Text Service for the Deaf Community 0787 2677 904. Lines open 8.30 am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Advice is also provided by the National Help to Claim helpline on 0800 023 2581 or via webchat. Lines open 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday.


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