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Changes to Universal Credit

UC has been extended to all new claimants of means tested benefits.

Universal Credit has replaced 6 main means tested benefits:  Income Support; Income Related Employment and Support Allowance; Income Based Jobseekers Allowance; Housing Benefit; Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

This means that if you need to make a new claim for one of these benefits and you are of working age, you will be directed to claim Universal Credit.

If you are already in receipt of one of these benefits and have a change of circumstances that means that you are no longer entitled to that benefit but you still need financial support, you will have to make a claim for Universal Credit;

However, not all change of circumstances mean that you will have to claim Universal Credit; for example if you are unemployed and start work of 16 hours or more per week you will lose entitlement to Income based Jobseekers Allowance, but it is a change of circumstances for any Housing Benefit award. You will need to contact the council within 4 weeks in order for them to reassess your entitlement.

Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit is one benefit but made up of two elements. If you are in receipt of one of the elements it can mean that some change of circumstances will bring you into entitlement to the other element. You do not have to claim Universal Credit, but a better off calculation should be undertaken.

The other main features of Universal Credit are:

  • All UC claims are made and managed online;
  • All UC claimants and their partners will have to meet 'work related requirements' which will differ depending on their circumstances;
  • All UC claimants and their partners will have to sign a claimant commitment which will outline their work related requirements and what is expected of them
  • UC claimants will require an email address, bank account and telephone number
  • UC is usually paid to one member of a couple
  • Payments are paid in arrears and usually paid calendar monthly
  • UC payments include an amount for rent - you will usually be expected to pay your landlord, whether they are private or social landlord directly;
  • It is your responsibility to notify UC of any change of circumstances, this includes any changes in your rent payments.
  • All overpayments of Universal Credit are recoverable regardless of whether the error was that of the DWP.

Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction and UC

Housing Benefit claims still need to be made if you claim UC and you live in supported accommodation.

You will need to claim Council Tax Reduction if you have to pay Council Tax.

Get further advice and support before you claim Universal Credit if:

  • You are a student
  • You are an EEA national
  • You get a disability benefit and have your first child

Universal Credit helpline (DWP)
Telephone: 0800 328 9344 
Welsh language (make a claim): 0800 012 1888 
Welsh language (report changes): 0800 328 1744 
Textphone: 0800 328 1344 
Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 6.00pm 
Find out about call charges on the government website

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