Universal Credit is a new benefit for people who are on a low income or are out of work. It is a benefit administered by the Department for Work and Pensions through Job Centre Plus. It is being introduced in stages across the country. Universal Credit “full rollout” has now happened across Swindon.
Universal Credit aims to make the welfare system simpler by replacing six existing benefits and tax credits with a single monthly payment. It includes support for the costs of housing, children and childcare, as well as support for disabled people and carers.
Universal Credit replaces:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
Watch the Department of Work and Pensions' What is Universal Credit YouTube clip to find out more.
Help to make a Universal Credit claim
Citizens Advice Swindon can offer you support if you need to make a new claim for Universal Credit.
Their trained advisers can help you to:
- set up your Universal Credit account
- complete your claim
- verify your identity
- make sure you are providing the right information to the Jobcentre
- understand what Universal Credit will mean for you
If you are not sure what help you need, Citizen Advice Swindon can support you.
Drop in sessions with advisers
Sessions are available at:
Swindon. SN1 1HE
Monday and Wednesday, 9.30am to 3.00pm or Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9.30am to 12.30pm.
Alternatively, you can call on Freephone 0800 1448 444 or go to the Citizens Advice website.
Frequently asked questions
Am I eligible for Universal Credit?
The eligibility criteria under the full UC rollout starting December 2016 can be found here.
If you meet all the above criteria, you can make a claim for Universal Credit. If you do not meet these criteria then you should claim other benefits relevant to your circumstances, or you can use the benefits calculators to check what other help you might be eligible to claim for.
How Universal Credit is paid
Universal Credit is paid differently from current benefits. It is paid once a month, in arrears and directly into your bank, building society or credit union account. In exceptional circumstances alternative payment arrangements can be made. This will be discussed with you after you make your claim and you have your first interview at Job Centre Plus.
Any help you get with your rent will be included with your Universal Credit payment and you’ll then pay the council, housing association or landlord yourself.
Contact either the Money Advice Service or Swindon Citizens Advice to get help budgeting and planning for Universal Credit. If your work coach in the Job Centre identifies a need for support with budgeting they will speak to you about how Swindon Borough Council can provide personal budgeting support to you.
Where and how do I make a claim?
Universal Credit is run by central government, not by Swindon Borough Council. If you are eligible under phase 1 you can claim now and under phase 2 (full rollout) in December 2106.
You do not have to go to a Job Centre or council building to claim Universal Credit. You claim Universal Credit online. There is no paper form to fill in. This means you can make a claim at a time that is convenient for you. You can make your claim here: Universal Credit online.
Your local Job Centre can provide access to the internet or tell you about local places where you can use the internet for free. You can also make the claim using a mobile device such as a smart phone or tablet.
Support is available to help you get online if you are unable to do so yourself: The Libraries have pcs available for you to use (you have to book a session at the library help desk). If you require one to one support (for example; you have not used a computer before) you can book an appointment at the Central Library. Appointments are booked by calling the Central Library on (01793) 463238.
Call the Universal Credit helpline if you need any help making your claim online:
Telephone: 0800 3289344
(The lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm)
There is also a lot of help about making the claim at: The Universal Credit website
What you need to make a claim
When you make a claim, you will need to have:
- Your postcode
- Your National Insurance number
- Details of the bank, building society, credit union or Post Office account you want your Universal Credit paid into. Without one you will not be eligible for Universal Credit
- Your rent statement (if you have one)
- Details of your savings or other capital details of any income that’s not from work, e.g. from an insurance plan
- Details of any other benefits you are claiming
Currently you will need to have all the information ready that you need to make the claim, as it must be completed in one session. It should take 20 to 40 minutes to complete your claim form online.
The Universal Credit website will also tell you what type of information you need to have with you.
How long will it take for my claim to be processed?
If you’re successful, you’ll usually get your first payment one month and seven days after you made your claim. You will need to ensure you budget for these first 5 weeks as Universal Credit is paid in arrears.
If waiting this long for your first payment will leave you in financial hardship you can request an advance payment of your Universal Credit. This is given as a loan and is repayable over the following few months directly from any Universal Credit payments you are entitled to. You can visit the Citizens Advice website to find out how to apply for an advance.
If you aren't eligible for Universal Credit you will get an onscreen message telling you this and directing you to further information about benefits and credits that you might be able to get.
What do I do if I don't get the money I am expecting?
The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for the payment of Universal Credit claims. You should ring the Universal Credit helpline.
The lines are open Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 6.00pm:
Telephone: 0800 3289344
Who processes the claims?
The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for processing Universal Credit claims.
What do I need to do if I pay rent and I am eligible for Universal Credit?
It is important that you start planning for Universal Credit early. Things you can do include:
If your landlord has the facility to do so; set up a Direct Debit now and your landlord will increase your Direct Debit payments when you move onto Universal Credit or if your Housing Benefit changes before then. This will help you with managing your money under Universal Credit. If you are a Swindon Borough Council Tenant for more information visit My Housing Tenancy.
If you don't already have a bank account, set one up to receive your payments. For information on Basic Bank Accounts, which also allow Direct Debit payments, visit the Money Advice Service
You can plan for future costs by saving with a Credit Union. For more information on Credit Unions in your area visit our Affordable Credit page
Plan your budget using the free online budget planners available at Swindon Citizen Advice.
If you are a Swindon Borough Council tenant and you make a successful claim for Universal Credit, we may contact you to offer budgeting support to help you move to monthly payments of your Universal Credit.
If you are housed by a Housing Association, please contact them for further advice. If you are a private tenant, please contact your landlord.
What if I am a landlord?
If you are a landlord and want to know more about Universal Credit, take a look at this publication: Universal Credit and rented housing – frequently asked questions from the central government's website.