CORONAVIRUS: Many people have been told to claim Universal Credit because their income has dropped due to the Coronavirus – but this may not be their only option – especially if they are already getting Tax Credits and/or Housing Benefit. See our Coronavirus pages for more information.
Do I have to claim Universal Credit?
Universal Credit replaces 6 benefits: Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
If you’re already claiming these benefits, don’t need any extra financial help, and are not having a change in your circumstances, then you don’t need to claim Universal Credit yet.
But, if your circumstances are changing and you would need to make a claim for one of the benefits being replaced, you might need to claim Universal Credit. Although, certain people can still make a new claim for Housing Benefit: those who are state pension age (with special rules for mixed age couples – click here) and those living in ‘specified’ or ‘temporary’ accommodation, such as a hostel, women’s refuge or certain supported accommodation – click here.
My circumstances are changing – will I need to claim?
Maybe. Although many people do not have to claim when they have a change in their circumstances, it all depends on:
- What the change is.
- Whether that change will stop any of your existing benefits or not.
- Whether, given your new circumstances, you will need extra financial support.
- Whether you will be better off on Universal Credit.
You will probably have to claim Universal Credit if:
- You are moving to a new Local Authority area and require help with your rent.
- You are becoming responsible for paying rent for the first time.
- You are having your first baby.
- You are currently getting Tax Credits as a couple and you split up.
- You are currently getting Tax Credits as a single person and become a couple.
Note these are not exhaustive lists.
IMPORTANT: Whilst you don’t want to delay making a claim for Universal Credit if that is your only option, it is best to check with a Benefits Adviser before you do to check that it is the right option for you.
I’m not currently on any benefits but need financial help
If you are working age, then you could make a new claim for Universal Credit. You’ll need to pass the basic claiming conditions – see Who can get Universal Credit?
Whether you are entitled or not will depend on your personal circumstances. For more information on how Universal Credit is worked out – see How Much?
You don’t have to be out of work to claim Universal Credit. Many working people claim Universal Credit as a top up to their wages, to help pay their rent or to help pay for childcare costs. It’s not just for those on a low income.
If you are currently working or expecting a large payment from work, it can be beneficial to delay making your claim – see How Income Affects an Award.