Universal Credit

Universal Credit and welfare benefits

The way people of working age (not retired) claim benefits has changed. Universal Credit replaces these existing benefits:

  • Jobseekers’ Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

Universal Credit works differently to the benefits you may already be claiming, so it’s important you know what will change and how it will affect you and your budget.

Since July 2018, it hasn’t been possible to make a new claim for any of the above benefits. You will instead have to make a claim for Universal Credit.

If you are currently claiming one or more of these benefits you will be contacted at some point by the DWP to claim Universal Credit.

We’re here to help you understand these changes and claim all of the benefits you are entitled to.

You can find out more about Universal Credit, including how it might affect your childcare or housing costs, on the Understanding Universal Credit pages on the Government's website.

How we can help

When you are moving to Universal Credit or considering making a benefit claim, our team can offer advice and support.

We can help you make your claim and put plans in place to stay on top of your rent and service charge payments. If you are finding it difficult to pay your rent or service charges, please contact us as soon as possible and we will work with you get things back on track.

Our experienced team:

  • offer drop-in sessions at The W G Grace Centre on the 4th Wednesday of each month to give advice on what benefits and grants you may be able to claim,
  • will make one-to-one appointments for more in-depth advice if you need it,
  • help you create a plan to stay on top of your bills and rent payments,
  • organise savings and budgeting workshops that are free to attend.

Please contact us to make an appointment. You can email the team directly by clicking here

What you need to know about Universal Credit

  • Your first payment will take more than a month after applying.

Once you submit your application for Universal Credit, it will be a month and a week before your first payment.

It might be harder for you to pay your rent when you first go on Universal Credit. Contact us as soon as possible and we can work with you to put aside a little extra every month so that it'll be easier to pay your rent when you first go on Universal Credit.

The Money Advice Service has more information to help you prepare a budget.

  • It is paid monthly.

Universal Credit is paid monthly on the same day. So, if you currently receive benefit payments throughout the month, you need to think about how you will budget so your money lasts the whole month.

  • Housing Benefit is paid to you

When you switch to Universal Credit, your Housing Cost Element (payment to cover your rent)– will be paid directly to you, rather than to Phoenix as it may currently be.

What you need to claim Universal Credit

1. A bank account

Universal Credit is paid directly into your bank account. Since May 2020, Post Office accounts are not accepted.

Read more about which accounts you can set up to claim Universal Credit here.

2. An email address

You need an email address to complete a claim for Universal Credit on the Internet.

Using the Internet makes it easier to use lots of services, find cheaper deals, and search for new jobs.

If you would like help to get online, visit The Green Man on Wednesday mornings from 10am to 12noon for our Digital Drop-in sessions.

3. A phone number

When you apply, you will need to give a phone number.

4. A monthly budget

What you need to do now

  • Contact us before making a claim

Some people will be better off on Universal Credit and some will find they receive less money. Before you make an unnecessary claim, you can contact Help to Claim, run by Citizens Advice. Visit the Citizens Advice website to find out more or call 0800 1448 444 to speak to a Citizens Advice adviser. 

Eventually, everyone on one of the six benefits listed above will be moved to Universal Credit. However it affects you, we will work with you to make sure that you are as ready as possible for this change.

  • Make a claim

Claims are made online on the Government website. You can also call 0800 328 5644.

We can help you make a claim if you contact us.

Useful information

  • Universal Credit and your commitments

When you claim Universal Credit, you will have to do certain things to guarantee the full amount of money you are entitled to. This could include applying for jobs or attending appointments.

If you don’t do these things, you may be sanctioned.

  • If you or your partner is over the state pension age

If one person in a couple is over pension credit age, you will no longer be able to claim pension credit. Instead you will need to claim Universal Credit.

  • Council tax reduction and Universal Credit

If you are on a low income, you may be able to apply for a reduction in your council tax that means you pay less.

To do this, you will need to make a claim online on the Lewisham Council’s website.

Money Helper is designed to help people new to Universal Credit or considering making a claim prepare to do so.

Debt advice

  • Debt advice from Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice has plenty of advice on its website on how you might be able to manage any debt.