Information Now

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:

  • 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 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.


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.


End of life

People considered by a clinician 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 the highest rate of Universal Credit.


Amounts and budgeting

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

The basic monthly allowances are as follows:

  • Single person under 25 years £265.31
  • Single person aged 25 or over £334.91
  • In a couple and you’re both under 25 years £416.45 (for you both)
  • In a couple and either of you are 25 or over £525.72 (for you both)

Plus these amounts if they apply:

  • Children (but there is a 2 child limit)
  • 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


How to make a Universal Credit claim

You can only normally claim Universal Credit online.

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

If you can’t make a claim online or have problems with your claim you can get help from:

Universal Credit gov.uk 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 Northumberland’s Help to Claim service: Visit the Citizens Advice webpage

To book a session for support to complete a Universal Credit claim online, phone on 0191 277 8833 or 0191 277 8834 to speak to a member of the Assisted Digital Support team

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

Your local Jobcentre Plus

Newcastle City Council Universal Credit page read more about universal credit in Newcastle


The move to Universal Credit

Universal Credit is replacing 6 means tested benefits for people of working age: Income Support, income-based Jobseekers Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will write to you to tell you when you have to claim Universal Credit.

Stop and check

Some people will be ‘better off’ on Universal Credit, than the older (legacy) benefits. Some people will be worse off.

It’s important to check if you will be better off before you apply for Universal Credit.

Get a benefits check online to find out what benefits are right for you or get benefits advice from a local service.

Before you receive a letter from the DWP: If you receive 1 of the older benefits and your circumstances change, you need to make a new claim. You may need to apply for Universal Credit. However some people do not need to apply. For more details, see the table on Newcastle Council’s Universal Credit webpage.

Read more from Newcastle Council about The Move to Universal Credit and how to work out if and when you need to apply for Universal Credit.


Computer classes and support

It is worth getting support to build your confidence to get online, as you will need to manage your Universal Credit online.

If you don’t have internet access at home, you can find on where to access computer support in Newcastle on InformationNOW.

There are computer classes that can help you to develop your IT skills. Visit our events and activities section and select the computer category.

For more information read Newcastle City Council’s information and advice on Universal Credit.


Health costs 

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

There is a more general advice page about eligibility for healthcare costs including prescriptions on this 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.


Other useful information

For information about budgeting and managing money read our Managing your money article on Information NOW.

InformationNOW’s Telephones article  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.

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

Last updated: August 12, 2022

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