Universal Credit is a benefit payment for people of working age. You can claim Universal Credit whether you are:

  • in work
  • looking for a job
  • unable to work

Universal Credit is replacing the following existing benefits:

  • Tax Credits: Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

You only need to change from these benefits if you have been sent a Universal Credit Migration Notice Letter by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)  telling you to claim Universal Credit by a certain date or if you have a change in your circumstances.

Universal Credit Questions & Answers

  • Universal Credit - who can claim?

    You may be able to get Universal Credit (UC) if:

    • You’re on a low income or out of work.
    • You’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17).
    • You’re under State Pension age (or your partner is).
    • You and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you.
    • You live in the UK.
    • Your partner’s income and savings will be considered, even if they are not eligible for Universal Credit.

    Please see the Government’s website for more details around claiming UC if you are 16 & 17 years old and If you’re 18 or over and in training or studying full-time.

    If you’re in a couple and one of you is State Pension age, you and your partner will need to claim Universal Credit as a couple if one of you is under State Pension age and eligible for UC.

    When you both reach State Pension age your UC claim will stop.

    You may be able to apply for Pension Credit or other benefits as a couple when your Universal Credit stops. Ask your Jobcentre Plus work coach or contact our Money Matters Team to what else you could be eligible for. 

  • How to claim?

    You need to apply for UC online at: www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit

    You must apply as a couple if you and your partner live together. 

    The UC team might phone you after you’ve sent your application if they need more information or if you cannot verify your identity online.

    Before you apply, you’ll need:

    • Your bank, building society or credit union account details (call the UC helpline 0800 328 5644 if you do not have one).
    • An email address (except for in specific circumstances).
    • Information about your housing, for example how much rent you pay. Contact us if you need help with this information.
    • Details of your income, for example pay-slips.
    • Details of savings and any investments, like shares or a property that you rent out.
    • Details of how much you pay for childcare if you’re applying for help with childcare costs.
    • If you do not provide the right information when you apply it might delay/affect when you get paid or how much you get.

    You also must verify your identity online. You’ll need some proof of identity for this, for example your:

    • driving licence
    • passport
    • debit or credit card

    You will not be able to progress your claim without verifying your identity. If you need assistance with this, you can contact Help To Claim on 0800 144 8 444 

    Please remember to submit your Universal Credit claim as soon as possible.

    Please remember Universal Credit can only be backdated 1 month so please do not delay your claim.

  • What is an Advance Payment?

    If you need help to pay your bills, including your rent, while you wait for your first Universal Credit (UC) payment, you can apply to get an advance.

  • How do I apply for an Advance Payment?

    You can apply for an advance payment in your online account or through your Jobcentre Plus work coach.

    You’ll need to:

    • explain why you need an advance
    • verify your identity (you’ll do this when you apply online or on the phone with a work coach)
    • provide bank account details for the advance (talk to your work coach if you cannot open an account).

    You’ll usually find out the same day if you can get an advance.

    If you need help applying for an advance payment, call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.


  • Do I have to pay back my Advance Payment?

    You will need to pay back your advance a bit at a time from your future Universal Credit payments, or by other means if you no longer get Universal Credit, for example, from your wages or other benefit you may be getting. 

    You can choose how many months you pay the advance back over. You must pay it back within 24 months. You do not pay interest on it - the total amount you pay back is the same.

    Find out more about advance payments on the government website.

  • How much Universal Credit will I get paid?

    Your Universal Credit (UC) payment is made up of a standard allowance and any extra amounts that apply to you, for example if you: 

    • are single or part of a couple
    • have children
    • have a disability or health condition which prevents you from working
    • need help paying your rent
    • are a carer
    • need help paying for eligible childcare

    Use our free benefits calculator to work out what you maybe entitled to.

    The amount you may be entitled to will be unique to your individual circumstances. 

  • When will my Universal Credit get paid?

    UC is paid once a month, usually into your bank, building society or Credit Union account.

    Your payment can include an amount for housing, which you’ll need to pay to your landlord.

    If you’re not able to open a bank, building society or credit union account, call the UC helpline 0800 328 5644 to arrange a different way of getting paid.

    Your first payment

    It usually takes around 5 weeks to get your first payment.

    If you need help with your living costs or rent while you wait for your first payment, you can apply for an advance.

    The wait before your first payment is made up of a one-month assessment period and up to 7 days for the payment to reach your account.


    You make a new UC claim on 1 September.

    Your first assessment period runs for one month to 30 September, with a new assessment period beginning on 1 October.

    You get paid on 7 October and on the 7th of each month after that.

    Payment dates

    After the first payment, you’ll be paid on the same date of every month.

    If your payment date is on a weekend or a bank holiday, you’ll usually be paid on the working day before.

    You’ll get a monthly statement that tells you how much Universal Credit you’re going to get.

    Find out more about how you are paid on the Government website.

  • Housing Costs - help with your rent

    You can get help paying for your housing if you’re eligible for UC. This is called your housing payment.

    Your housing payment can help you pay:

    You get the payment, and you usually must pay it to your landlord.

    To make a successful claim you will need details of your rent, services charges and landlord. Contact us if you need help with this information.

    UC is paid monthly. If your rent is paid weekly, a monthly amount will be calculated by multiplying the weekly rent by the number of weeks your landlord collects the rent, then dividing by 12.

    Please remember once you’ve started claiming you will need to report any changes in your circumstances. If you do not, your benefits may stop.

    Visit the Government website for more details on renting.

    Visit the Government website for more details on Housing Costs and UC.

  • Supported, Sheltered or temporary housing and housing costs

    You cannot get UC to help with housing costs if: 

    • You live in one of our Independant Living Schemes 

    However, you will still need to claim Universal Credit for your living costs if you under pension age in additional to continuing to claim Housing Benefit for your rent 

  • Rent arrears - Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA)

    If you’re behind on your rent, you could have your housing payment sent directly to us. This is called an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA).

    You can apply for an APA through your work coach or case manager. 

    We can also apply for an APA if you meet the right criteria.

  • Non - dependent deductions

    Other adults in your household aged 21 or over might affect how much money you get towards your housing costs. 

    To find out more click here

  • Reporting a change in circumstances

    Changes in circumstances should be reported to the DWP as soon as possible. It is important that you also contact us as this might affect the amount of rent you need to pay

    You need to report changes to your circumstances, so you keep getting the right amount each month. The earliest you can report a change in your rent in your journal is from the date it takes effect. It cannot be done in advance of the change date.

    Your claim might be stopped or reduced if you do not report a change of circumstances straight away.

    Changes that can affect your claim include:

    • finding or finishing a job
    • having a child
    • moving in with your partner
    • starting to care for a child or disabled person
    • moving to a new address
    • changing your bank details
    • your rent going up or down
    • changes to your health condition
    • becoming too ill to work or meet your work coach
    • changes to your earnings (only if you’re self-employed)

    How to report

    You can report a change of circumstances by signing in to your Universal Credit account.

    Annual rent cost changes

    Failure to update your journal with your new housing costs will mean you do not receive the full amount to cover your monthly rent charge. This results in rent arrears and risks possession proceedings commencing.

    You are advised each year by letter from RBH about your rent increase and updating your UC Journal.

  • Your responsibilities

    When you claim UC you will make an agreement called a ‘Claimant Commitment’ with your work coach.

    What you need to do depends on your situation. You might need to do activities such as:

    • write a CV
    • look and apply for jobs
    • go on training courses

    You’ll also need to do things like:

    If you’re claiming with your partner, you’ll each have a Claimant Commitment and set of responsibilities.

    Visit the Government website to get more information on your responsibilities.

  • Sanctions

    If you do not meet your responsibilities or what you’ve agreed in your Claimant Commitment, your UC could be stopped or reduced. This is called a sanction.

    There are different levels of sanctions and they’re decided based on what you did and how often.

    You’ll get half a sanction if you apply with a partner and only one of you does not meet their responsibilities.

    You can request a mandatory reconsideration via your journal or work coach if you think it is wrong.

    Citizens Advice or our Money Matters team can help.

  • Support available to help with Universal Credit applications

    You can apply for Universal Credit online, via the Gov.uk website, but if you need help with your application, there is plenty of support available.

    Support from Citizens Advice Bureau - Help to Claim

    Help to Claim advisers can help you with the early stages of your Universal Credit claim. You can talk to them on the phone, online or face-to-face.

    Find out more about Help to Claim on their website.

    Support from RBH

    If you are experiencing financial pressures and are struggling to pay your rent, please get in touch as soon as possible, as it's better to let us know now. 

    Call us on freephone 0800 027 7769. 

    If you need help with any aspect of your Universal Credit claim, you can contact our Money Matters Team.

    UC Helpline

    You can call the Universal Credit Helpline for more support and advice on 0800 328 5644.

    You can also find out more support on the Government website.

  • Universal Credit helpful links

    If you're worried about falling behind on bills. there are plenty of organisations where you can get advice for free, including:

    Money Helper(was The Money Advice Service)

    Loads of helpful tips and advice including budget planners and saving money.

    Citizens Advice

    Provides free, independent advice on a range of subjects including benefits and debt.

    Gov.uk UC Claimants Information

    Information for Universal Credit claimants