How Universal Credit Works

Universal Credit 

You will normally receive one monthly payment to cover your living costs and if you claim as a couple, you and your partner will get one payment between the 2 of you. The payment is made up of a basic ‘standard allowance’ and extra payments that might apply to you depending on your circumstances.

You might be able to get extra payments if you:

  • look after one or more children
  • work and pay for childcare
  • need help with housing costs
  • are disabled or have a health condition
  • are a carer for a disabled person or you have a disabled child

Universal Credit is for working-age claimants and is slowly replacing 6 legacy benefits. e.g. Housing Benefit. Universal Credit is paid monthly, mostly paid directly to the claimant and it is their responsibility to pay their rent to their landlord, whereas housing benefit was paid every 4 weeks directly to your landlord.

You may be entitled to the housing element of Universal Credit because of your low income. The amount of housing element you are entitled to will depend on your circumstances, such as you or your partner’s salary the number of bedrooms you have (see bedroom tax), and if you have any non- dependants in your home.

Check if you are entitled to or better off on Universal Credit, use this helpful UC helper tool –

If you get help with your rent

If your UC payment includes help with rent, you will have to pay your landlord each month from your Universal Credit payment. If you are in debt, have rent arrears or you’re struggling to manage your money you can ask the DWP to pay the rent directly to your landlord.

If you are working

You can get Universal Credit if you are working but your Universal Credit will reduce gradually as you earn more, and it will go up if your job ends or you earn less.

If you are self-employed, the DWP will expect you to earn a certain amount called ‘minimum income floor’.

Claiming other benefits if you get Universal Credit

You should make a separate application for council tax support. Getting council tax support will not affect the amount of Universal Credit you get.

Get Advance Payment

It will usually take 5 weeks after you apply to get your first Universal Credit payment, but you can ask for your first payment sooner if you do not have enough money to live on – this is called an ‘advance payment’. The advance payment is a loan which will be deducted in instalments from your future Universal Credit payments every month until you have paid it back.

Universal Credit Helpline – Telephone: 0800 328 5644