What is Universal Credit

What is Universal Credit? – A Basic Guide

Find out what is universal credit, how it is different from the existing benefits, how to apply, what you’ll get and so on. Read this post till the end to get all your answers.


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What is Universal Credit?

Universal credit is a benefit by the government for the living cost of the people who are earning a low income or out of work. This credit replaces some of the benefits and tax reliefs that you might be availing of right now that includes:

What is Universal Credit

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

They’re also known as the legacy benefits by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). If you’re already entitled to these benefits and tax credits, you don’t need to claim for UC.

The DWP will contact you when your benefits will be replaced by Universal Credit. If you’re the one making a new benefit claim, you need to claim for Universal Credit rather than other benefits.


Who can claim Universal Credit?

You can claim this credit if:

  • you earn a low income or you’re not working
  • your age is over 18
  • you or your partner or spouse are under the state pension age
  • you and your partner or spouse have less than £16,000 in savings
  • you’re living in the UK

There are circumstances where you can claim for Universal Credit at the age of 16 or 17, like when you’re studying.


Visit the government website to find out more.


How often is Universal Credit Paid?

You’ll get this credit on a monthly basis into your account in England, Wales, and Scotland. In Scotland, you can ask for a fortnight payment rather than getting a single monthly payment. The default payment period in Northern Ireland is every two weeks, but you can go for monthly payments.


What You’ll Get?

The Universal Credit includes standard allowance and additional benefits that apply to you if:

  • have children
  • have a disability/ health condition that stops you from working
  • you need help to pay your rent
Circumstances Standard allowance (monthly)
Single (under 25) £344
Single (25 or over) £411.51
Couple (under 25) £490.60 (for you both)
Couple (either of one is 25 or over) £596.58 (for you both)

You need to note that the Universal Credit allowance can go up and down depending upon your circumstances. It includes the income you receive from:

  • working
  • a pension
  • savings and capital above £6,000
  • other benefits


For a detailed guide on what you’ll get you can visit the government website.


How to Apply for UC?

If you’re eligible for Universal Credit, you can apply online to at the government website. To apply for it, you need to provide the following:

  • Account details of your bank, building society or credit unions ( if you don’t have, you may call UC helpline)
  • Email address
  • Details of your housing like rent etc
  • Your income details e.g payslips etc
  • Saving and investment details e.g shares or property that is rented out
  • Details of how much you pay for childcare

If you provide insufficient or incorrect information, it might affect the amount of payment and time you receive it. Moreover, you also need to have proof of your identity like:

  • Passport
  • Driving license
  • Debit or credit card


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How long does it Take to Get UC?

If you’re entitled to UC, you need to apply for it as soon as possible. As you might need to wait for around five weeks to get your first payment and it is paid in arrears.

If your circumstances change – like you found a new job –  you can cancel it. This will help you to avoid taking an advance payment. However, you can also make an advance payment if you don’t have enough money to live on before getting your first payment.

If you’re already taking legacy benefits, it is better to take the advice of an expert before claiming Univeral Credit. As normally, you can’t move back to your old benefits once you’re entitled to Universal credit.



To conclude, you have got all your answers to what is universal credit, how it is different from the existing benefits, how to apply and what you’ll get. Still, if you’re unable to claim it, you can contact the UC helpline on 0800 328 5644. Moreover, bear in mind that there are many scammers who usually attract claimants through low-cost loans and government grants. They might make a fake website and logo and may ask you to provide your ID and bank details to make claims for UC. So, you need to be well informed before providing any details to them. Remember that the DWP will only contact you from 0800 023 2635.

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Disclaimer: This blog is written for general information about Universal Credit.

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