Universal Credit

Universal Credit Full Service goes live in Darlington on the 20th June 2018. From this date most working age people will not be able to make a new claim for old means-tested benefits or tax credits but can claim Universal Credit instead.

What is Universal Credit?
What benefits does Universal Credit replace?
What do I need to do to get Universal Credit?
How to claim
How to apply
Verifying your identity
Your responsibilities
What you'll get and how your paid
Move to Universal Credit Housing Payments
Financial Support available
Help and support

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment to help with living costs for people in or out of work. It is issued by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and it works differently from other benefits. The biggest differences are:

  • you’ll get a single payment each month, rather than weekly of fortnightly
  • it will be paid directly into a single bank account, as a single household payment
  • instead of getting a separate housing benefit payment, your housing costs will be paid as part of your monthly Universal Credit payment. It will be your responsibility to pay your rent to your landlord
  • you can only apply for Universal Credit online, there are no paper versions of the form available
  • it will be more flexible for people with changing working hours because you won’t go on and off benefits, having to reclaim, the Universal Credit will adjust to take account of this

Universal Credit replaces the following benefits:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

If you already receive one of the benefits that Universal Credit is due to replace, you don’t need to do anything until you hear from the DWP about moving to Universal Credit, unless you have a change in your circumstances.

Everyone will go on to Universal Credit except those living in supported or temporary accommodation, people of pensionable age, and families with three or more children who have not received Universal Credit before.

Most working age people will go onto Universal Credit.

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To get Universal Credit you must:

  • be on a low income or out of work
  • live in the UK
  • not have savings over £16,000
  • not have three or more children in your household

How to claim

To apply, you’ll need:

  • your bank, building society or credit union account details – account number and sort code
  • your own email address and mobile phone number
  • your (and your partner’s) National Insurance number
  • information about your housing, for example how much your rent is, your landlord’s name and address
  • details of your income, for example payslips
  • details of savings and any investment, 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

You may also need a Work Capability Assessment to see how your disability or health condition affects your ability to work.

If you don’t provide the right information when you apply it might affect when you get paid or how much you get.

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Verify your identity online:

You will have to Verify your identity online. You will need some proof of your identity to do this, for example your:

  • driving licence
  • passport
  • debit or credit card

After you apply, you must contact your local Jobcentre Plus within 7 days to make an appointment with a work coach. You won’t get Universal Credit if you don’t attend this appointment.

Your responsibilities

You’ll make an agreement called a ‘Claimant Commitment’ with your work coach. What you need to do depends on your situation. You might need to:

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

You’ll also need to:

  • pay your own rent and other housing costs
  • report any changes in your circumstances

If you have children:

If you’re a single parent or the lead carer in a couple, your responsibilities will change as your youngest child gets older and will be tailored to your personal circumstances.

What you’ll get

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

  • have children
  • have a disability or health condition
  • need help paying your rent

How you’re paid

  • It usually takes around 5 weeks to get your first payment.After that it is paid once a month on the same date, usually into your bank or building society account. Your payment can include an amount to help you pay your rent, which you will need to pay to your landlord.

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Move to Universal Credit Housing Payments

A two week Transition to Universal Credit Housing payment will be awarded to Housing Benefit claimants who naturally move to Universal Credit following a change in their circumstances.

There are certain exceptions where this payment will not be made:

  • Partners joining a Universal Credit claim who were previously claiming Housing Benefit
  • Universal Credit claimants who are no longer living in temporary or supported accommodation, their Housing Benefit claim is ended and they move to having their housing costs paid by Universal Credit

Reporting a change of circumstances

You need to report changes to your circumstances so you keep getting the right amount each month. Your claim might be stopped or reduced if you don’t report a change of circumstances straight away. Changes can include:

  • finding or finishing a job
  • having a child
  • moving in with your partner
  • starting to care for a child
  • moving to a new address
  • changing your bank details
  • your rent going up or down
  • changes to your health condition

You will need to report a change of circumstances by signing into your Universal Credit account and updating your Journal.

If you are paid too much, you may have to repay the money if you:

  • didn’t report a change straight away
  • gave wrong information
  • were overpaid by mistake

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Financial Support available:

  • Advance Payment - If you don’t have enough to live on while you wait for your first payment you can ask the DWP for an Advance Payment.
  • Hardship Payment - If you can’t pay for rent, heating, food or hygiene needs because you have got a sanction you can ask the DWP for a Hardship Payment.
  • Budgeting Advance - If you have an emergency household cost, such as replacing a broken cooker, or you need help getting a job or staying in work you may be able to get a Budgeting Advance.

You’ll pay these amounts back through your regular Universal Credit payments, reducing your monthly payments.

Alternative Payment Arrangement - If you’re having financial difficulties or you’re behind with your rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA). Depending on your circumstances you could:

  • get your rent paid directly to your landlord
  • get paid more frequently than once a month
  • receive split payments, if you’re part of a couple

For Help and Support

For more detailed information and to claim Universal Credit visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit [external link]

Universal Credit Helpline – 0800 328 5644, Textphone – 0800 328 1344

Online Access is available at:

  • Jobcentre Plus Office, Darlington
  • Darlington Borough Council Customer Contact Centre at the Town Hall

If you require Assisted Digital Support to help to complete your online application or update your journal, or you require Personal Budgeting Support to help with managing your budget, you should speak to your Job Coach who will help arrange this.

Council Tax - for help to pay your Council Tax apply for Council Tax Support online at www.darlington.gov.uk/benefits click ‘Benefits’ then click ‘Online Forms’

Discretionary Housing Payments – if your Universal Credit payment isn’t enough to pay your rent and you need help, apply for Discretionary Housing Payments online at www.darlington.gov.uk/benefits click ‘Benefits’ then click ‘Online Forms’

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