Universal Credit is a new working-age benefit being introduced as part of the government’s welfare reforms and is replacing the following six benefits:
- Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
Universal Credit replaces these six benefits with one single monthly payment to support to people on a low income who have savings under £16,000.
Once you have claimed Universal Credit, your Housing Benefit and payments of the other benefits and Tax Credit Universal Credit replaces will end and you will not be able to reclaim these benefits in future.
How and when to claim Universal Credit - get advice before making a claim
You’ll only need to claim Universal Credit if your circumstances change, and as a result of the change, you need to make a new claim for any of the six benefits and tax credits listed above which Universal Credit replaces. Not all changes require you to make a new claim for Universal Credit. For example, you do not need to start a new claim if you move house and stay in Lambeth, you just need to complete the change of circumstances form.
It can be difficult to understand what changes of circumstance require you to make a new claim.
Some people will find themselves worse off when they claim Universal Credit, so get advice if you’re unsure whether you should be claiming.
It’s important to check before making the claim because you cannot reclaim the legacy benefits Universal Credit is replacing at a later date, even if you claimed Universal Credit by mistake or as a result of being misadvised.
If you need help
The Citizens Advice Bureau provide a "Help to Claim" service and can explain when and why you may need to claim Universal Credit and if you need to apply help you make the claim. For more information, visit their website.
Even if you need to make a new claim for Universal Credit you need to claim Housing Benefit for help with your rent if any of the following apply:
- You live in temporary accommodation provided by the Council
- You live in a Domestic violence refuges or Homeless Hostels.
- You live in certain types of Supported Accommodation classified as 'Specified Accommodation', which includes accommodation owned by either Housing Associations, registered charities or voluntary organisations, and you require and receive support in your home. In most cases, your landlord should be able to tell you whether or not your home is classed as 'Specified Accommodation' or not.
- You and your partner (if you have one) have reached state pension age. Check if you are classed as pensioner by using GOV.UK’s state pension age calculator.
If you are single you are classed as a pensioner once you have reached your 66th Birthday. If you are part of a couple you are classed as a pensioner if you have both reached your 66th Birthday. If you are part of a couple and only one of you have reached your 66th Birthday, in most cases this will mean you may need to claim Universal Credit. However, couples who were already claiming Housing Benefit or Pension Credit as of 14/05/2019, may be able to stay on Housing Benefit and Pension Credit, and in certain, specific cases may be able to make a new claim for Housing Benefit or Pension Credit. You can still make a new claim for Housing Benefit if you are a mixed aged couple (one of you is pension age but the other is not) and are covered by an exception which enables you to make a new claim. For example, if one of you is getting the Guarantee element of Pension Credit, and have received this continuously since before 15 May 2019. In this situation the older member of the couple needs to be the main claimant for the Housing Benefit claim.
If you already receive Housing Benefit, you can continue to do so until:
- your circumstances change and you need to make a new claim, or
- you are migrated to Universal Credit by the Department for Work and Pensions .
You will be notified of when you will be asked to claim Universal Credit. All claimants will be moved to Universal Credit by 2024. You can find out more about being moved on to Universal Credit from Completing the move to Universal Credit - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Once you have claimed Universal Credit, your Housing Benefit claim, and any other legacy benefits in payment will end and you will not be able to re-claim Housing Benefit in the future unless one of the above exceptions apply.
Universal Credit does not replace our Council Tax Reduction Scheme called Council Tax Support or free school meals. If you need help to pay council tax, you will still need to claim Council Tax Support.