Universal Credit is a single benefit that will eventually replace Income Support, Employment Support Allowance, Jobseekers Allowance, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and Housing Benefit (for working age residents). Universal Credit only applies to people of working age, so if you are of pension age, you are not affected by Universal Credit.
Because of the changes, most working age residents will not be able to make new claims for the benefits mentioned above that are being replaced. If you need to make a claim for any of those benefits, you will usually need to claim Universal Credit instead. Remember that in Universal Credit, all of your benefits (including your housing costs) will be paid as a single monthly payment. This means that you will need to make arrangements with us to pay your rent if you move to Universal Credit, because your housing costs will be paid directly to you for you to then pay us.
You should always get independent advice before claiming Universal Credit. This is because some things that might appear to need a new claim can actually be dealt with by making changes to an existing claim, and you may be better off doing this than claiming Universal Credit. This is particularly true if you receive a “disability premium” in your current benefit, and people who get such premiums should always seek advice before claiming Universal Credit as people in this category are particularly likely to be worse off under Universal Credit.
The last budget from the government also announced a number of changes to how the detail of Universal Credit will work. Most of these changes are in fact good news for residents, and are scheduled to be phased in gradually over the next 18-24 months. The first change is the removal of restrictions on the ability of 18-21 year olds to claim Housing Benefit, and this took effect in December 2018.
If you need any help or further information regarding Universal Credit, please contact our Financial Inclusion Adviser on 020 8768 7925.