Universal Credit

The UK Government is going to combine a number of current working age benefits into one benefit which will be known as Universal Credit.

One of the benefits to be included in Universal Credit for a working age claimant will be Housing Benefit.

Universal Credit will be administered by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) NOT the Local Authority and it will be paid monthly in arrears as a single payment to the household.

The introduction of Universal Credit for all working age claimants is taking place over a number of years.

For working age Spelthorne residents making a new claim for benefit, you will be required to make a claim for Universal Credit from 28 November 2018. 

Existing working age Housing Benefit claims will be migrated to Universal Credit in the future and this is scheduled from 2019 onwards. You will be notified by the DWP when you have been chosen to transfer to Universal Credit.

Once you are claiming Universal Credit with the DWP / Job Centre you can ask to be referred for personal budgeting advice. This facility will be available if you feel that you may need help during the transition period in dealing with your personal monthly finances. The Local Authority will supply this service for Universal Credit claimants when it is requested on their Universal Credit application up to the end of March 2019. From April 2019 onwards this service will be supplied by the Citizens Advice Bureau.

To make a claim for Universal Credit visit the GOV.UK website.

What is the Universal Credit?

To simplify the benefits system, the government has announced that it is creating a new benefit, called Universal Credit for working age claimants only

This is to replace the following welfare benefits:

  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit - for working age claimants only
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

The Universal Credit will be means-tested which means that anyone who applies will have their income and savings assessed, and if they, or a partner, earn over a certain amount or have a certain amount of savings they will be unable to get the Universal Credit.

These amounts will be set by the government so we do not know who would be eligible for Universal Credit. It will be paid either on an individual basis if claimants are single or to couples jointly.

There will be a basic rate called the standard allowance and extra amounts for people in different circumstances - for example, if they have children, a disability or need help with housing costs.

How will claims to Universal Credit be made and managed?

Universal Credit is designed so that each claimant can make a claim online and then personally manage their claim directly through an online account.

How is a Universal Credit payment calculated and what does it include?

Universal Credit is made up of a standard allowance and several other elements, as appropriate, since any award is based on a claimant's personal circumstances.

The elements are:

  • child element/disabled child additions
  • childcare element
  • carer element
  • limited capability for work element
  • work related activity element
  • housing element

The monthly Universal Credit payment covers everyone in a family who qualifies for support.

This may be:

  • a person claiming for themselves alone
  • a person claiming for themselves and their child or children
  • a couple making a joint claim for themselves
  • a couple making a joint claim for themselves and their child or children

Why is Universal Credit paid monthly?

Universal Credit is paid monthly to help people budget effectively and reflect the world of work, where 75% of all employees receive wages monthly. The government believes this will help the smooth transition into monthly paid work, encourage claimants to take personal responsibility for their finances and to budget on a monthly basis.

How will Universal Credit affect Pension Credit?

Under the existing system, people over the qualifying age for Pension Credit can also receive Housing Benefit. This will still apply for the foreseeable future.

Where one member of a couple is over the qualifying age for State pension credit, but their partner is below the qualifying age for claiming pension credit, then the benefit support will be available through Universal credit and not Pension Credit. It will be classified as a working age claim and therefore be subject to the size criteria for those in social housing.

Existing mixed aged couples who are already receiving Pension Credit when this charge is introduced will be protected.