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Do you need help claiming Universal Credit, or working out if Universal Credit is the best thing to claim?
Citizens Advice provides a Universal Credit “Help to Claim” Service to guide you through the process.
To access the service phone 0800 144 8444 or go online with web chat at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/helptoclaim. Phone and web chat are available Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm
In Bracknell we have a dedicated team giving face to face help to local residents who need help with claiming Universal Credit. To access the service please phone the above number, use web or drop in to our Bracknell office and ask the Receptionist.
What is Universal Credit?
Universal credit replaces 6 old-style means-tested benefits:
Universal Credit does not affect any of the following benefits:
When might I need to claim Universal Credit?
If you are not claiming any benefits and need some help with income or housing costs, you may need to claim Universal Credit. You can check first with our Help to Claim Service to make sure that you are entitled and that it is the best benefit to claim.
If you are already getting one or more of the 6 old-style benefits, you don’t normally need to switch over to Universal Credit unless you have a change in circumstances, for example a change in household (partner moves in/out, a new baby) or you lose your job. However, a change in circumstances will not always trigger a move to Universal Credit. Before claiming Universal Credit it is always best to check that it’s the right thing to do for your circumstances – everyone is different. Once you have claimed Universal Credit you can’t normally reclaim any of the 6 old style benefits and may be worse off. Check first with our Help to Claim Service.
See more information on our website here:
Some people who receive a Severe Disability Premium (SDP) paid with their old-style benefits can’t yet claim Universal Credit. Before claiming Universal Credit it always best to check that it’s the right thing to do for your circumstances – everyone is different – and once you have claim Universal Credit you can’t reclaim any of the old style benefits and may be worse off.
How does Universal Credit work?
Universal Credit is normally managed online: to start your claim you apply online, you can also notify any changes, send and receive messages through your online “journal”, submit your job searches, etc.
You need to keep your login details safe and secure just as you would your online banking details.
Both you and your partner, if you have one, will need to claim, because Universal Credit is based on household income. Each person has their own account and these accounts are then linked during the claiming process.
When will my Universal Credit be paid?
Universal Credit is paid monthly. After the first payment, you’ll be paid on the same date of every month. If your payment date is on a weekend or a bank holiday you’ll be paid on the working day before. The first payment takes around 5 weeks to come through.
The amount of Universal Credit you receive each month depends on your income. If you are working and your employer pays you weekly, fortnightly or four weekly, your Universal Credit payments may vary, because Universal Credit looks at your monthly income, not your weekly income.
More information can be read at:
When considering making a new Universal Credit claim it might be best to wait until after you have received any one off or large payments such as from a redundancy, as this will be taken into account when calculating your first month’s payment.
If you’re going to struggle with money until you get your first Universal Credit payment, then you can apply for an advance payment – however this is only a loan and will need to be repaid. The repayments are made over 12 months.
You can check your Universal Credit online account to see how much you will get paid, when you will get paid and how the payment was worked out.
Do I need to work, or look for work?
You might need to look for work or prepare for work as part of getting Universal Credit. Any requirements should be tailored to your individual needs and should take into account any caring responsibilities, or any disability or health problems, and anything else that might affect your ability to work.
Will I be better off?
Some people, particularly those in paid work, might be better off claiming Universal Credit compared to old style benefits. However, other people, particularly those with a disability, may not be better off. It depends on your circumstances, so check first with our Help to Claim Service to make sure that you are entitled, and that it is the best benefit to claim.
You can check your entitlement with an online benefits checker:
Or contact our Help to Claim Service for advice: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/helptoclaim
For more information about Universal Credit see www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/universal-credit