Universal Credit

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a benefit payment for people under Pension Credit age. It provides one payment for housing, employment, children and income.

Universal Credit is 1 benefit with 1 calculation.  It replaces these working-age means-tested benefits, (also known as legacy benefits):

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit

Universal Credit does not replace any other benefits. For example, it does not replace Council Tax Support or Pension Age benefits such as Pension Credit and Pension age Housing Benefit and certain people in special accommodation still get Housing Benefit for their housing costs.

How is Universal Credit paid?

Visit the Newcastle City Council website to read more about how Universal Credit is paid.

Payments are made 1 month in arrears. It may take up to 5 weeks to receive your first payment.  It is possible to get discretionary advance payments, if you meet certain criteria.  The housing costs element of Universal Credit which replaces Housing Benefit for most tenants, will normally be paid direct to you. You then have to pay your landlord. However you can ask for it to be paid direct to your landlord under the Alternative Payment Arrangements scheme.

To receive Universal Credit you will usually need an account with a bank, a building society or a Credit Union. If you can’t use such an account, Jobcentre Plus may use a Payment Exception Service

Money Advice Service has more information about how to get an account and what they involve.

Am I eligible for Universal Credit?

Visit Universal Credit on Gov.uk to see if you are eligible to claim. Before claiming Universal Credit, check out the City Council’s webpage move to Universal Credit and also get advice to make sure you do not lose out.

Benefit cap and other reductions

Your Universal Credit may be limited by ‘welfare reforms’ such as the “bedroom tax“, the 2 child limit and the benefit cap and other reductions.

People who are terminally ill or at end of life

People considered by a health professional to have 12 months or less to live can get quicker (or fast-tracked) access to Universal Credit. People who are eligible do not have to have a face-to-face assessment or complete a waiting period. Most people receive a higher rate of Universal Credit.

Amounts and budgeting

Visit the Newcastle City Council’s how to check your benefit entitlement online, including Universal Credit.

You can see the basic monthly allowances on www.gov.uk

You may also be able to claim additional benefits if they apply:

  • Children but the 2 child limit may apply unless exempt
  • Disabled children
  • Housing costs (rent)
  • Limited capability for work element
  • Carer
  • Childcare costs

Jobcentre Plus work coaches will also offer help with budgeting if you are having financial difficulty. This may mean a referral to the Council’s debt advice service or others

You can apply for a Budgeting Advance if you are in financial difficulty and are eligible for Universal Credits.

How to make a Universal Credit claim

You can only normally claim Universal Credit online.  But you can claim over the telephone in limited circumstances.

When you make an online claim, you’re sent an appointment with a Jobcentre Plus Office Work Coach. At the appointment you will confirm the details of your claim and plan appropriate work related activity.

Help to claim Universal Credit

You can get practical help and advice to make a claim online or if you have problems with your claim from services in Newcastle. This includes:

Gov.uk Universal Credit Helpline open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm. Call 0800 328 5644. They can help if you get stuck while you’re making your claim

Citizens Advice Help to Claim service you can talk to them on the phone, or online over chat

Universal Credit online claim support at Newcastle Libraries you can book a face to face appointment at Kenton, Fenham, Outer West, East End, City Centre library

Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) tenants can get support from YHN

Your local Jobcentre Plus for help with a new or existing claim.

Read more on Newcastle.gov.uk about local help and support

The move to Universal Credit

Universal Credit is replacing 6 older benefits, known as legacy benefits. There are two main ways people on legacy benefits may need to claim Universal Credit. One is if they have a change in circumstances and the other is if the government write to them inviting them to claim Universal Credit. Read more about both:

Those on legacy benefits who have a choice, should check if you’ll be better or worse off on Universal Credit before claiming it. See The move to Universal Credit

If you are not on a legacy benefit, you can claim Universal Credit at any time.

Computer classes and support

To help you manage your online claim for Universal Credit you need to be able to use a computer and the internet. Training and support to learn computer skills and develop your confidence is available.

Get Online Newcastle runs computer classes for everyone at libraries across Newcastle. They also run informal sessions where you can practice your skills, such as techy tea parties.

Universal Credit online claim support at Newcastle Libraries you can book a face to face appointment at Kenton, Fenham, Outer West, East End, City Centre library.

Read more on computer classes and digital support on InformationNOW.

Where to access computers and digital equipment for free on InformationNOW.

Health costs 

You can get help to pay for health costs when you are receiving certain benefits. This includes things such as prescriptions, glasses, wigs, dental treatment and travel costs to health appointments.

The rules for help with health costs if you receive Universal Credit can be found on NHS.UK.

Where can I get benefits advice?

It can be useful to speak with someone about the Universal Credit and how it may impact upon your other benefits. A local independent advice service can help guide you through the process such as:

Visit newcastle.gov.uk to download the ‘Where to get benefits advice in Newcastle’ booklet which lists more benefit advice services.

If you can’t make a claim online or have problems with your claim or you need advice, you can get help from a number of services listed in Universal Credit support in Newcastle

Managing on a low income

You may find these pages on InformationNOW useful if you are on a low income

Cost of living support lists many local support services and tips on how to make your money go further

Managing your money for more information about budgeting and managing money

Telephones services has details of a more affordable telephone service if you are in receipt of certain benefits for example, Pension Credit, Income Support, Universal Credit or Jobseeker’s Allowance.

NHS Healthy Start Scheme provide a free prepaid card to people on certain benefits, who are pregnant or have children under the age of 4. The card can be used to buy the child or children milk, fruit, vegetables and vitamins.

Free meals and low cost food where you can get a free hot meal or buyer cheaper food in Newcastle

Food banks and emergency food parcels where you can get free food parcels in Newcastle

Last updated: November 15, 2023