Useful information about Universal Credit

Watch the UC explained film:

Q. What is Universal Credit?

A. It’s a new type of financial support for people of working age who are looking for work or on a low income.

Q. When is it being introduced?
A. Universal Credit is in place now but 'full service' for couples and families will be rolled out from:

  • Dover – 3rd May 2017
  • Thanet – 19th July 2017
  • Shepway – February 2018
  • Canterbury – April 2018

From 3rd May 2017 in Dover and 19th July 2017 in Thanet all types of claimants will be able to claim Universal Credit (UC.)  This includes working age single claimants, couples and families with 2 children and fewer. There are also changes to single claimants with no dependent children aged between 18-21 years old who need to claim the housing element of UC.

Those making a new claim for UC after the above dates will be on the full service. Under full service you will have to manage your UC claim online and will be expected to report changes, find support and contact their work coach through your online account. If you are already on UC you will migrate to full service in approximately 3 months after your area rolls out the full service. 

Q. What benefits does it replace?
Universal Credit is a new benefit for working aged people in and out of work, which will bring together the following benefits into one monthly single payment and will replace these six benefits:

  1. Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  2. Income-related employment and support allowance
  3. Income support
  4. Child tax credits
  5. Working tax credits
  6. Housing benefit (you’ll have to pay your rent to us from your Universal Credit)

Q. How does this affect my rent?
One of the biggest changes for those on UC will be that they need to pay their rent directly to their landlord – for some this may be the first time they have had to do this. The easiest way to make sure your rent is paid on time would be to set up an automatic payment on the day you receive your UC – either as a standing order or Direct Debit.

If you don’t pay your full rent amount on time, you could end up losing your home. So it’s vital you understand how you can pay your rent – visit our How to pay your rent section.

Remember: No one can live in their home rent free. We don’t want to evict anyone but if they don’t pay their rent and don’t get in contact with us for help, we may have no alternative.

Q. What happens if I do not pay my rent?
A. Your rent, along with your Council Tax needs to be paid as a top priority and should be paid first before your other bills.  If your rent remains unpaid and you do not contact us to discuss making an arrangement to pay, a Notice Seeking Possession will be served. This is the first stage of potential legal action to gain possession of your property which can lead on to eviction. Always open any letters from us, return our calls and stay in contact if you are struggling. 

Q. How do I pay my rent?
A.  You can look up the five different ways to pay your rent here.

Q: How do I make a claim for Universal Credit?

Those making a new claim for UC after the above dates will be on the full service. Under full service you will have to manage your UC claim online and will be expected to report changes, find support and contact their work coach through your online account. If you are already on UC you will migrate to full service in approximately 3 months after your area rolls out the full service.

After making a claim online for UC, you must call the UC service centre within 7 days to book an initial interview at the Jobcentre. If you don’t call, your claim will be cancelled.

Watch the how to make a claim film:

Q. What can I do if I do not have a bank account?
A. To receive Universal Credit you will need a bank account and if you want to pay by Direct Debit and Standing Order you will need a current account with a bank. A current account is easy to set up and use. Please see the Money Advice Service website which gives you help and advice on what banks offer these accounts, along with what is required to open an account.  It is also a good idea to have a separate bills account where your rent and regular bills are paid from and have a second account for everyday use.

Q. How do I  budget for monthly payments?
A. Drawing up a budget of all your household income and outgoings is a must if you want to make sure you can pay all your bills and manage until the end of the month. Please see the Money Advice Service website which offers you help and advice on how to budget along with a budget planner.

Q. I know I will need to manage my Universal Credit claim and account online, how do I get access?
A. If you need help getting online, your local library can help you to find a course. Most libraries also have computers which are usually free of charge to use. If you know someone you doesn't have a laptop or computer, please visit free online access in the UK for help in gaining internet access.

Did you know?

  • UC won’t affect people of pensionable age - use the online State Pension Calculator to find out if you qualify for a pension.
  • Council Tax Support or reduction is NOT included with UC

Useful websites and contact details:

We have put together a list of useful website and contact details that will help you find out more about Universal Credit (UC).

  • Turn2us - a charitable service which helps people access money

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