Find out about Universal Credit and how it affects you if you claim benefits.
Universal Credit (UC) is one single payment, which aims to make benefits simpler by replacing:
- Housing Benefit
- Working Tax Credit
New benefit claims
If you need to apply for any of the old benefits you'll claim UC instead.
Existing benefit claims
If there's a major change to your circumstances you'll transfer to UC. An example of a major change includes a birth, bereavement or a partner moving in or out of the home.
If you don't make a new claim or have a major change to your circumstances, you'll stay on your current benefit for now.
All existing claimants will transfer to UC between 2019 and 2023. Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will let you know when this will affect you.
If you get Housing Benefit
Your rent will no longer be paid direct to your landlord. You need to pay your rent yourself and you're responsible for paying your rent on time.
You need to ask DWP to pay rent direct to your landlord. You can only do this once you get your first payment.
If you have rent arrears, your landlord can also ask DWP to pay rent direct to them. DWP call this an Alternative Payment Arrangement.
If you qualify for help with housing costs, it's included in your UC payment.
When you apply online, make sure you tick the box to confirm you have housing costs to pay. If you don't it won't be included.
If you get council tax reduction
UC doesn't include a payment for council tax.
You must apply for a council tax reduction after you apply for UC.
You won't need to apply again if you're transferred to UC and you still qualify for council tax reduction.
You can only claim online
You can only claim UC online on the GOV.UK website. You also need an email address.
If you don't have access to the internet or need help to make your claim, you can:
- visit your nearest Jobcentre Plus
- make an appointment with the Money Advice and Rights Team (MART) or Citizens Advice
- get online at your local library
You can claim for an advance payment
Your first UC payment can take around 5 weeks. If you're going to have problems while waiting for your first payment, you can claim an advance.
You can claim up to 1 month's UC payment interest free. It takes 5 days to process. You have 12 months to pay back this loan and it's taken from your UC payments.
You can apply for this once you've submitted your UC claim by contacting Jobcentre Plus. You may also qualify for the Scottish Welfare Fund crisis grant. If you qualify for it, this is a grant you don't need to pay back.
How you get paid will change
DWP pays UC monthly. From your second payment, DWP will pay UC on the same day every month. This is unless you ask DWP to pay it twice a month. It can't be paid weekly, fortnightly or 4 weekly like the old benefits.
Paying UC twice a month is different from having it paid fortnightly. Contact DWP if you need them to explain this further.
UC is only paid into a bank, building society or credit union account.