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Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a 'means-tested' benefit that is being introduced by the government.

Universal Credit is a 'top-up benefit' that you may be able to claim if you are of working age and do not have enough money to live on. Whether you can claim it depends on your circumstances and where you live.

Universal Credit replaces these means-tested benefits:

  • Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

This means that Universal Credit will eventually replace all means-tested benefits for people who are unemployed, working part time, working full time or unable to work because of illness or disability (temporary or permanent).

Universal Credit is not replacing all benefits

Not all benefits are being replaced by Universal Credit.

Other benefits such as Child Benefit, Carers Allowance and both Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance which are based upon your National Insurance contributions, will stay in place.

What happens to your claim if you get benefits now

If you're already getting one of the benefits that Universal Credit (UC) replaces, you'll stay on that benefit for the time being.

You may be moved over to UC if you have a change in your circumstances which would require you to make a new claim for one of the benefits that UC is replacing.

However, if your circumstances remain the same, you may not be moved to UC until between November 2020 and September 2024. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will write to people to ask them to change their claims. At the moment, not much else is known about this 'managed migration' process and the dates for its introduction may change/

For more information download the PDF named 'Universal Credit - What is happening now and in the future', which is attached to this page.

Basic conditions for claiming Universal Credit

To claim Universal Credit, you need to meet the following conditions:

  • your situation must fit the financial rules for Universal Credit (your income is low enough to qualify, and you must not have over £16,000 in savings)
  • you must be in Great Britain (temporary absence will be permitted) - there are also rules relating to your 'right to reside' in the UK and 'habitual residence'
  • you must usually not be 'receiving education'
  • you must accept a 'claimant commitment' - the leaflet 'A short guide to Universal credit' attached to this page explains more about this

How old you must be to claim Universal Credit

You must usually be 18 years old in order to claim. There are special rules for 16 to 17 year olds, who may be able to claim in certain circumstances. If you, or your partner, or both, are under 18, seek advice to make sure of your correct entitlements.

Pension credit age

Unless you have reached the age at which you can claim Pension Credit, you must claim Universal Credit. 'Pension Credit age' is the age at which you may claim State Retirement Pension and other pensioner benefits. Find out more about benefits for pensioners

Ill or disabled

If you're already claiming benefits due to illness or disability it's likely there will not be changes to your claim until between November 2020 and September 2024 unless you report a change of circumstances.

If you are on Employment and Support Allowance and you are found fit for work and you disagree with this decision, seek advice from Derbyshire Welfare Rights, email: or tel: 01629 531531.

UC is only replacing the income-related (means-tested) version of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). It doesn't replace ESA based upon your National Insurance contributions or Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance.

How Universal Credit is worked out

Like the previous mean-tested benefits, Universal Credit is only payable if you don't have too much in savings and your income is below what the law says you need to live on. The attached factsheet 'How is Universal Credit worked out' has further information.

Recent changes in the rules mean that you may only be allowed a UC 'child element' for the first 2 children for whom you claim. No help may be given with third or subsequent children (born after April 2017). There are exceptions to this policy so get advice if this change affects you.

The majority of Universal Credit Claims will be managed online. The system is responsive to changing circumstances, so for instance, if a claimant does a week's work during the month, they will be able to add this information to their 'account' and their benefits will be adjusted accordingly. This is to make it easier for claimants to take on extra hours, or take a short term job without having to worry about losing their benefits or making a new claim due to change of circumstances.

Housing costs and Council Tax support


When you start to claim Universal Credit any payments for housing costs will be included. You'll not need to a make a separate Housing Benefit claim, it will all be calculated together. You can claim whether you are a social or private housing tenant.

Rent costs will usually not be paid direct to your landlord. You will be expected to manage the payments yourself. Seek advice if this arrangement would cause you difficulty. 'Universal Credit − a short guide' which is attached to his page has more information. You may also find information on waiting for a Universal Credit claim to be processed useful.


It may be possible to get mortgage interest help on secured loans under £200,000 if you claim Universal Credit. However, this is help with interest only and it is in the form of an interest bearing loan − seek advice.

Council Tax

When you claim Universal Credit, you'll no longer need to claim Housing Benefit (except if you are in temporary accommodation or accommodation where support is provided), but you do need to make a separate claim for help with your Council Tax bill. Contact your local borough or district council to do this.

Conditionality and sanctions

In order to get Universal Credit, you'll have to agree to certain 'conditions' or 'work-related requirements' and make a 'claimant commitment'.

Sanctions are reductions in your Universal Credit imposed by Jobcentre Plus if you don't comply with the conditions. You can find out more about this on the in the attached factsheet − a short guide to universal credit.

Universal Credit - childcare element

We have more information about claiming the childcare element of Universal Credit.

More information about Universal Credit

The attached factsheet 'A short guide to universal credit' also includes information about:

You will also find other factsheets attached to this page which cover other aspects of Universal Credit.

We have more support and advice on Universal Credit if you can't find the information you're looking for.