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‘What is Universal Credit?’

It’s coming. It’s getting closer. If you’re under pension age and hasn’t got to you yet, just wait: it will find you…

If you’ve clicked on this link, you presumably know that there is something called Universal Credit, but that may be all you know.

These pages will introduce you to Universal Credit and explain how it may affect you.

But first, here are some key details…


  • It replaces income based Jobseeker's Allowance, income based Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, and Housing Benefit;
  • Unlike income based Jobseeker's Allowance, income based Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, you will sometimes carry on being entitled to it if you start work but don’t get paid much;
  • It does not replace contribution based Jobseeker's Allowance and contribution based Employment and Support Allowance, which carry on as before. This means that people will often have to claim a contribution based benefit as well as their Universal Credit;
  • If you are in work and get paid Universal Credit, if your wages go up and down you don’t need to tell the Jobcentre Plus: the information is passed to the Jobcentre Plus automatically;
  • You should be given advice about managing your money;
  • It will normally get paid to you monthly (that’s a calendar month, not every four weeks like some other benefits);
  • The monthly payment will include any help you need with rent: the DWP will normally expect you to pay this on to your landlord;
  • You will normally have to claim it online.

The last three blobs are likely to cause a lot of problems for a lot of people. A month is a long time. At the end of that month you might have run out of money, and even got into debt. But when that payment comes, you'll have to make sure that your landlord gets what they're due, or you'll end up falling behind with your rent. And what if you are going to have trouble claiming online?

Fortunately there is some flexibility. You'll notice that in each of the last three blobs I've included the word 'normally'. This is important.

I have included an extra page with more details about the extra support that should be available for people who are struggling with the way that Universal Credit works: click on this link if you want to know more.

Otherwise, choose one of the options below and click on it for more information about how Universal Credit works. At the moment I only have two options to choose from. However I’ll be adding information for couples, people with children, carers, and people already in part-time work, soon.
In both these options I will also look at what happens if you start work.