What is Universal Credit?

Many people are being encouraged to claim Universal Credit – but this may not be their only option – especially if they are already getting Tax Credits and/or Housing Benefit.
See our When will I have to claim? page for more information.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new benefit for people of working age who need financial support. It is designed to top up your income to a minimum level. It doesn’t matter whether you are working, looking for work, or unable to work due to an illness or caring responsibility.

It is being introduced in stages and the government aims to have it fully rolled out by the end of 2024 – so you may not need to claim it yet.

If you already claim one of the six benefits that Universal Credit is replacing (see below), then you can continue to do so for now.

At the moment you will only need to claim Universal Credit if:

  • You have a change in your circumstances that would normally mean you would be looking to make a new claim for one of the benefits UC is replacing, or
  • You have been sent a ‘migration notice’ – you may receive one of these at some point in the future

See When will I have to claim? for more information.

Key Facts

The key facts of Universal Credit are:

  • It is a means tested benefit so whether you will receive any, and how much you get, will depend on your personal circumstances, your income and any savings you have.
    See How Much for more information on how Universal Credit is assessed.

  • It does not matter whether you work or not, or how many hours you work.
    See How does UC work for workers? for more information.

  • It is claimed online, and you also maintain your claim online.
    See How do I claim for more information about claiming Universal Credit.

  • It is a monthly benefit – which means it’s reassessed and paid as a lump sum every month into your bank account.
    See Understanding Assessment Periods for more information.

  • The amount you receive usually includes support for your rent – so you will be responsible for paying this yourself.
    See Help with your rent for more information.

  • All Universal Credit claimants have a claimant commitment – this outlines what you have to do in exchange for receiving it.
    See The Claimant Commitment for more information.

  • You’ll be allocated a work coach who will help you meet these commitments and answer your questions.

What it’s replacing

The benefits Universal Credit is replacing are:

These are sometimes referred to as the ‘legacy benefits’. All other benefits remain to be claimed and paid as normal.

If you are getting one or more of these benefits you do not need to do anything now.

Universal Credit is very different to the ‘legacy’ benefit system – so it is worth finding out about how it will affect you so you can start thinking about what you may need to do to prepare for it. See How can I prepare for Universal Credit? for more information.

For a better idea of when you may need to claim – see When will I have to claim?

Watch this video for an overview of Universal Credit……