Universal Credit is a payment made by the UK government to help people with a low income or who are out of work. It replaces a range of benefits, including Housing Benefits, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, and Working Tax Credit.
Eligibility for Universal Credit:
To be eligible for Universal Credit, you must:
- Be aged 18 or over (there are some exceptions for people aged 16-17)
- Be under the state pension age (there are some exceptions for people who are disabled or have caring responsibilities)
- Be in or looking for work
- Be living in the UK
In addition, you must meet certain other criteria, such as having a limited amount of savings and not owning your own home (or being unable to pay a mortgage). If you are married or living with a partner, both of you must be eligible for Universal Credit and must claim it together.
How to apply for Universal Credit:
If you think you might be eligible for Universal Credit, you can start your application online through the government’s Universal Credit website. You will need to provide information about your circumstances, including your income, savings, and details of any other benefits you are receiving. You will also need to provide identification and proof of your address.
Once you have submitted your application, you will be invited to attend an interview at your local Jobcentre Plus office. At the interview, you will discuss your circumstances in more detail and agree on a plan to help you find work or increase your income.
How Universal Credit is paid:
Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, directly into your bank, building society, or credit union account. If you do not have a bank account, you can ask for your payment to be made to a prepaid card or to be paid in cash at the Post Office.
If you are eligible for Universal Credit, you will receive a single monthly payment that includes any housing costs you are entitled to. This means that you will be responsible for paying your rent or mortgage out of your Universal Credit payment.
If you have children or are responsible for a disabled person, you may be entitled to additional payments on top of your standard Universal Credit payment. You may also be able to get help with certain other expenses, such as childcare costs or the cost of making adaptations to your home if you are disabled.
Managing your Universal Credit payment:
It is important to budget carefully when you are on Universal Credit, as you will be responsible for managing your own finances and paying your own bills. You may be able to get help with budgeting and managing your money through the Jobcentre Plus or through your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
If you are struggling to pay your rent or other bills, it is important to speak to your landlord or provider as soon as possible. They may be able to offer you support or agree to a payment plan.
If you are having difficulty managing your Universal Credit payment, you may be able to get an advance payment to help you through a difficult time. This is a loan that you will need to repay out of your future Universal Credit payments.
If you are facing a crisis or emergency, you may be able to get additional support through the Universal Credit hardship fund. This is a limited fund that is available to help people who are facing exceptional circumstances, such as a natural disaster or a bereavement.
Challenges with Universal Credit:
Universal Credit has been the subject of controversy since it was introduced, with many people experiencing difficulties with the new system.