Benefits and help

Universal Credit

Find out what you need to know if you are affected by Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is a new government benefit for working age people on a low income or who are out of work. From 20 June, most new benefit claimants in Islington, and some people who are on benefits now but whose circumstances change, will be moved to Universal Credit.

Others who are already receiving benefits will at some point be moved over to Universal Credit (probably by 2023) but the government has not yet told us when this change will start.

Universal Credit is run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Islington Council and partners are here to help residents understand and prepare for the changes.

Which benefits does Universal Credit replace?

It replaces these six benefits:

• Child Tax Credit
• Housing Benefit
• Income Support
• Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
• Working Tax Credit

What’s different about Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is paid differently to previous benefits and tax credits. It is a single monthly payment into a credit union, bank or building society account, and includes any money for your rent. You will need to pay rent to your landlord directly, and you will also need to pay any bills.

There is at least a five-week delay between applying for Universal Credit and getting your first payment, so start thinking about what you need to do now! The delay will be longer if your claim is incomplete.

You will need to apply separately for council tax support.

You can indicate that you want to claim council tax support when you make your claim for Universal Credit. Or, you can contact the Council directly to make a claim.

How will Universal Credit work?

You will need to verify your ID online and get a bank account

  • You will need some proof of identity to do this, like a credit or debit card, driving license or passport. You can sign up now to the government’s Verify service before you claim, which would save you time

  • You will need a credit union, bank or building society account. Find out about fee-free basic bank accounts

  • Universal Credit will be paid monthly into this bank account. Money for your rent (what would have been your housing benefit) will be paid straight to you, it will not go to your landlord. You will be responsible for paying your rent, in full, directly to your landlord

You will need to get online

  • Most people will be expected to manage their Universal Credit claim online, so you will need internet access

  • You will need to keep the DWP updated about your circumstances – you are responsible for this and it can affect your payments

  • You will also need an email address and to verify your identity online

  • You can use computers at our libraries, and there are also facilities to make your claim at your local job centre and at 222 Upper St

  • If you need help using a computer you can take an Adult and Community Learning course

  • The Islington Computer Skills Centre offers free training for Islington residents aged 19 and above who are unemployed or low waged and receiving benefits

You will need to budget

  • You will need to budget so you can pay your rent and council tax and your other living costs every month

  • There is at least a five-week delay between applying for Universal Credit and getting your first payment. The delay will be longer if your claim is incomplete

  • You can apply for an advance payment, which is repayable over 12 months

  • Some claimants’ money will go up when they move to Universal Credit, and some will go down

  • If you need help with budgeting speak to your work coach at the job centre who can help you get independent advice

Support with Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a big change from any benefits or tax credits you may get now, and you need to be ready to manage your claim differently.

If you claim benefits and your circumstances are likely to change soon – if you are planning to have a child, or to move, or to take a job – please contact the Universal Credit helpline: 0800 328 5644 open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm.

For help completing your application visit our two job centres in the borough:

You can also get help from the Citizens Advice team at 222 Upper St N1 1XR.

For advice and support for your living costs contact:

  • The Income Maximisation team: email or phone 0800 731 808

If you are facing extreme hardship the Resident Support Scheme may be able to help you.

Who can claim Universal Credit?

On 20 June 2018 Universal Credit will be fully introduced in Islington.

New benefits claimants: From 20 June 2018, if you want to make a new claim for one of the six benefits or tax credits listed above, you will have to claim Universal Credit instead. You can find more detailed information about eligibility on the GOV.UK site.

Existing benefits claimants, when their circumstances change:
 From 20 June 2018, if you already claim any of these six benefits and you have certain changes in circumstances you may have to claim Universal Credit at that point and your money may go up or down.

Moving in with a partner, or having a child is a change of circumstances which can affect your Universal Credit. Find out what changes in circumstances you need to report.

Existing benefits claimants: Everyone who claims any of the six benefits and is of working age will be transferred to Universal Credit at some point in the future (probably 2023 in Islington), without making a separate claim, even if circumstances do not change.

The government has said you will not lose any money at the point you are transferred to Universal Credit – you will carry on getting your old rate of benefit. But if your circumstances change, that protection may end. The DWP will get in touch with you in advance if you are being migrated to Universal Credit, so you will know what you have to do.

People who are reaching pension age

If you are reaching state pension age you will no longer qualify for Universal Credit. You will need to make a new claim for Housing Benefit from the date that you reach state pension age. You will need to complete a claim form for Housing Benefit and send it to our benefits service as soon as possible.

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