Universal Credit is a new single benefit for working-age people. It will gradually replace most means-tested benefits such as income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, tax credits and Housing Benefit.
UC will start in one area in the North of England on 29 April 2013 and then be rolled out gradually to the rest of the country over the following months and years.
It's expected that UC will cover all benefit claims by 2017.
The most important thing to remember is that UC has not been rolled out throughout the UK.
There list of areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out is growing constantly, so check if you live in one of them before you consider applying.
If you live in one of the listed areas, want to claim benefits and meet certain conditions, you'll have to claim UC rather than one of the benefits it replaces.
However, not everyone who is entitled to benefits in the listed areas will be expected to claim UC. Only some single, unemployed people who are capable of working will be expected to claim. Other groups of people will have to claim one of the existing benefits such as Jobseeker's Allowance.
Once you've started getting UC you'll carry on getting it even if your circumstances change, for example, if you move to a different area.
The Government will introduce UC gradually in other areas and plan to roll it out across the UK in 2017.
There are two stages to claiming UC.
The first is to make an online claim.
The second stage is to go to a face-to-face interview at a Jobcentre Plus office.
When you make a claim, you will be asked to input your personal details including your National Insurance Number.
You will need to have all the information ready, as your claim must be completed in one session. The UC website will tell you what type of information you need to have with you.
Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit. This means that the amount you get depends on your income.
It also depends on your capital, for example, savings. The amount you receive may also be limited by the Benefit Cap.
To work out how much Universal Credit you’re entitled to you must visit a Jobcentre Plus where an advisor will calculate what you are eligible for using a number of guidelines.
Jobcentre Plus calculates your UC on a monthly basis. Each monthly period over which they calculate your UC is known as an assessment period.
To work out how much UC you’re entitled to, you’ll need to calculate it on a monthly basis. This includes working out your monthly earnings, even if you’re not paid on a monthly basis.
If you are not happy with the decision you may ask for it to be looked at again. This is called mandatory consideration. For more information about how to challenge a decision, please read our section for Challenging a benefits decision if you are unsure how the process for appealing works.
Call our helpline THT Direct or talk to an Online Adviser for more help with benefits.
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This article was last reviewed on
by C. Berry
Date due for the next review: 3/10/2017
Content Author: J. Font
Current Owner: D. Anyanwu
Citizen's Advice, Advisernet - Universal Credit
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