Universal Credit

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This page provides information about Universal Credit. This replaces 6 benefits including Housing Benefit for working aged people. It is normally paid monthly in arrears and includes an amount to help you pay your rent directly to your landlord.

The Department for Work and Pensions have an Understanding Universal Credit website that provides more information to support you. We also have Money Matters pages that you can visit for advice and support on a range of subjects.

On this page:

Before you claim Universal Credit

Check if you’re better off on Universal Credit before you apply.

Use our online benefit checker to work out if you would be better off on Universal Credit.

If you are unsure, get advice before claiming Universal Credit. Your current benefits might stop and you won’t be able to reapply for them, even if you are not awarded Universal Credit.

If one of you has reached State Pension age

If only one of you has reached State Pension age, you and your partner can still claim Universal Credit as a couple. Your Universal Credit claim will stop when you both reach State Pension age.

If you’re getting Pension Credit, it will stop if you or your partner make a claim for Universal Credit. You’ll usually be better off staying on Pension Credit. You can check using a benefit calculator.

If you get the severe disability premium

If you get, or are entitled to, the severe disability premium you may be able to get ‘transitional protection’ if you move to Universal Credit, this is an extra payment to help with the move to Universal Credit.

GOV.UK provides more information on transitional protection.

If you live in temporary accommodation
You need to claim Universal Credit towards you living costs, and Housing Benefits towards your rental costs, temporary accommodation includes a bed and breakfast arranged by the council.
If you are self-employed

Further information

GOV.UK provides more information on eligibility to claim Universal Credit including if you are under 18 years old, are studying or have a disability or health condition.

Applying for Universal Credit

Most people are expected to claim and manage Universal Credit online. More information on what you need to apply is available on GOV.UK’s website. You will also find an overview of the application and assessment process.

If you need help making a claim
Help to claim is available if you do not have access to, or having difficulty using, a computer. You can get support over the phone or through online chat with working out if you can claim Universal Credit, and completing an application all the way to your first payment.
If you are unable to manage your claim online
Some people are unable to make or manage their Universal Credit claim online, due to physical or mental health problems, disability (including visual impairment), or a lack of basic literacy. If you feel this applies to you, you can claim Universal Credit and manage your claim by calling the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644. Find more information and other ways to contact Universal Credit on GOV.UK’s website.
If you don’t have a bank account

You will need a bank account to have Universal Credit paid into. If you do not have an account, are currently overdrawn or paying charges, open a new fee-free basic bank account to prevent your Universal Credit being taken up by charges.

For information on how to open a fee-free basic bank account visit our protect your income page or the Citizens Advice website.

After you have made a claim

You will be told how to arrange an interview with Jobcentre Plus. You need to attend this appointment and it will be within 10 working days from submitting your application.

At your interview, you will agree a Claimant Commitment. This will list the activities you need to complete to receive Universal Credit and will be tailored to you and your circumstances. It is important for you to discuss any health condition or a disability which prevents or limits, your ability to work.

You claim will be stopped, and you may be sanctioned, if you fail to keep to the agreements made in your Claimant Commitment without a valid reason.

Universal Credit payments

Your first payment

You may have to wait for around 5 weeks from making your claim to your first payment. You can apply for a Universal Credit advance if you are unable to manage during this period.

Universal Credit is paid as a single monthly payment. You are responsible for paying your rent and other bills for the month.

Managing your money

There is help for you to manage your money from Universal Credit including Alternative Payment Arrangements like:

  • paying your housing costs straight to your landlord
  • deducting for rent arrears paid directly to your landlord
  • more frequent payments, such as twice a month
  • payments split and paid into two bank accounts instead of one

The Universal Credit website provides tools you can use to help plan your spending and advice on extra support you might be entitled to. This includes doing an online benefit check on GOV.UK to make sure you are not missing out on anything.

You can also view our money advice page for a list of national and local organisations you can receive free and confidential support from.

If you are struggling with any other issues relating to benefits, food or energy costs, your health or wellbeing or a range or other subjects, visit our Money Matters pages.


This is usually an adult son, daughter, other relative or friend who lives with you on a non-commercial basis. In some situations there can be a deduction called a ‘housing cost contribution’ taken from your Universal Credit for each non-dependent. Find out more information about housing cost contributions.

Bedroom entitlement and under-occupancy

Find information on how your bedroom entitlement and housing costs element will be calculated.

Reporting changes in circumstances

It is your responsibility to report any changes in circumstances to the Department for Work and Pensions as soon as they happen through your online journal or by contacting Universal Credit to ensure you receive the correct amount, and your claim is not stopped or reduced.

The Universal Credit website provides more information on reporting a change and managing your claim.

A change in circumstances may include:

  • finding or finishing a job
  • changes to your earnings (only if you are self-employed)
  • having a child
  • moving in with your partner
  • starting to care for a child or disabled person
  • moving to a new address
  • changing your bank details
  • your rent going up or down
  • changes to your health condition
  • becoming too ill to work or meet your work coach

Overpayments of Universal Credit are recoverable. This could reduce the amount of Universal Credit you receive. The only exceptions are cases of ‘official error’ where you could not have reasonably been expected to know you were being overpaid.

Rent increases

You must notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on the same day your rent changes. If you notify them before this date, your request will be rejected and you will need to do it again to make sure you receive the correct amount of Universal Credit.

Once you have logged into your journal, please select your ‘to do list’ and complete the task to update your rent charge on the day of your rent change. If you don’t have a task in your ‘to do list’ to update your rent charge, you will need to update your rent manually by:

  1. Selecting the ‘home’ tab
  2. Selecting ‘report change of circumstance’
  3. Selecting ‘where you live and what it costs’ and following the instructions


If you don’t do what you have agreed in your Claimant Commitment without good reason (that you have told Universal Credit and has been agreed), your Universal Credit payments may be reduced for a set period. This is known as a sanction.

The amount of Universal Credit you receive is made up from elements. Sanctions are applied to the Standard Allowance and not the housing cost element. This means you are expected to continue paying your rent and other bills when you are sanctioned.

If you have received a sanction for not attending a work search review, the sanctions will remain until you have attended one.

Hardship payments

If you are sanctioned and cannot afford your essential living costs because of this, you can apply for a ‘hardship payment’. This will be repaid through your Universal Credit payments after the sanction has been lifted.

More information on hardship payments and how to apply is available through Citizens Advice.

Appealing a sanction

If you disagree with the sanction, its level or duration, you can challenge it. Citizens Advice have a guide on arguments for challenging a sanction.

Further information

Find out more about sanctions and the debts and deductions that can be taken from Universal Credit payments.

If you disagree with a decision

You can request a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ of a decision within a month of the decision being made. You can do this on your journal or by calling the Service Centre. Further information on requesting a mandatory reconsideration is available through Citizens Advice.

If you mandatory reconsideration is not successful, you can appeal the decision. Read about appealing a decision. Specialist local benefit advice is available if you need extra support challenging a decision.

Managed migration

Managed migration currently affects people who are only claiming tax credits and no other legacy benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions will send you a ‘Migration Notice’ with instructions on what to do. Do not ignore any letters from Universal Credit, support will be available from Universal Credit and Money Matters.

Managed migration is the government’s national process of moving legacy benefit claimants onto Universal Credit. Legacy benefits are 6 means tested benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
Last updated on 22/11/2023