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
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
- 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:
Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) tenants can get support from YHN
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.
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.
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:
- Citizens Advice Newcastle (CAN)
- Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) give YHN tenants benefits and debt advice.
- Newcastle Welfare Rights Service have self help material on their website
- Search Newcastle give benefits advice to older people in the West of Newcastle
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