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How does Universal Credit work?

Find out more about how Universal Credit works

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 you should start thinking about what you need to do in advance. 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.

Which benefits does Universal Credit replace?

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

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 may be able to apply for your rent to go direct to your landlord, you should speak to your work coach about this.

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 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 Street.

  • 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 keep the DWP updated about your circumstances – you are responsible for this and it can affect your payments.

  • Citizens Advice can help you set up an email address and bank account, call them on 0800 144 8444 or speak to one of their local advisers at Finsbury Park and Barnsbury Job Centres. 

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 and it means your monthly payments will be lower.

  • 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.

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