Universal Credit is a new single payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income. It is intended to help claimants and their families to become more independent and will simplify the benefits system by bringing together a range of working-age benefits into a single streamlined payment.

Universal Credit (UC) was introduced in 2013 to simplify the welfare system by 'rolling' six means-tested benefits and tax credits into a single monthly payment that will be paid to you if your income falls below a certain level.

It is available to people who are looking for work or on a low income. UC is means tested, so payment will depend on other money your household has coming in. The higher your income is, the less UC you'll receive.

UC payments will be subject to the Benefit Cap.

The roll-out of UC started in April 2013 with the launch of the Universal Credit pathfinder and will not be completed until March 2023.

UC has replaced the following individual benefits:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income related Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Income Based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

Some benefits will disappear completely. Other benefits will stay but the rules about who can get them will change. A few benefits will continue to exist as they are now. See the individual sections at MAG - Benefits.

If you currently do not receive any benefits you can check whether you are entitled to receive UC at MAG - Benefit Calculator.

However whether you can claim it and the way you manage your claim depends on whether you live in a Full Service area or a Live Service area.

Full Service

Universal Credit Full Online Service is being rolled out by post code.

Since 1 January 2018 you can only make a new claim for UC in a Full Servicearea.

To see whether you can make a new claim for UC you need to find out whether it is available to your post code area by checking at this link.

Eventually all Universal Credit claims will be on the Full Service and all claimants will have a UC online account

Live Service

If you live in a Live Service area your claim will be for tax credits and other legacy benefits.

If you are already receiving UC and you live in a Live Service area you will manage your UC claim by phone.

All Live Service claims will eventually move to the Full Service and you will be notified when this will happen and what you need to do at that time

If you are already claiming any benefits you do not need to do anything - you will be told when Universal Credit will affect you.

Guides to Universal Credit

A complete overview of UC including eligibility, how to claim, how you will be paid and how to appeal, can be found at the GOV.UK website.

Alternatively, more information about UC is available from the following sites:

A series of comprehensive guides to UC can be found at the GOV.UK website.

Pension Credit

Pension Credit and Housing Benefit will remain for those over the qualifying age.

After UC has been introduced, if one member of a couple is over and one under the qualifying age for pension credit then the couple will be treated as working age. This means they would be expected to claim UC. Those already claiming pension credit will be protected.

UC for Couples

If you are part of a couple you and your partner will need to make a joint claim for UC. Only one member of the couple will complete the claim form, but that person will need to enter details for both of you.

Further information is available at the following links:

UC for the Self Employed

If you are self-employed Universal Credit will provide support to help you grow your business.

To must be able to show that the self-employed the work you do is:

  • regular
  • organised
  • developed

You must expect to make a profit and it should be your main job.

Full details of UC for the Self employed is available from GOV.UK.

Alternatively more information is available at the following links:

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