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Universal Credit - what you need to know

Universal Credit is completely different to other benefits, from how you claim to how it is paid. This page lists what you need to know and what you have to have in place before you can make a claim.

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work. It is issued by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Universal Credit works differently from other benefits - it's important to know the differences:

  • You'll get a single payment each month, rather than weekly or fortnightly.
  • It will be paid direct into a single bank account, as a single household payment.
  • Instead of getting a separate Housing Benefit payment, your housing costs will be paid as part of your monthly Universal Credit payment. It will be your responsibility to pay your rent to your landlord.

Who can claim

To get Universal Credit you must:

  • be 18 or over
  • be under state pension age
  • live in the UK
  • not savings of less than £16,000

Claiming other benefits

You may be able to get other benefits and support if you are claiming Universal Credit. This includes Child Benefit, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment (PIP). If you are receiving these now and move onto Universal Credit, these benefits will continue to be paid as usual.

If you need help paying your council tax, we have a local council tax reduction scheme , with support available of up to a 100% reduction on your council tax bill. These payments are not included in Universal Credit - you need to claim this from us. please visit our Council Tax Reduction Scheme page to make a claim.

For help with childcare, you  may also be entitled to free play and learn sessions if you have a two year old child.

If you get help to pay your rent

When you receive Universal Credit, it is your responsibility to pay your rent, rather than having it paid directly to your landlord or social housing provider.

The best way to do this is to set up a direct debit from your bank account. If you have any concerns, contact your landlord directly or discuss alternative payment arrangements with Job Centre Plus.

Universal Credit payments

You need an account for Universal Credit to be paid into. The best type of account depends on how you wish to use it - if you want to ensure your rent is paid and you have access to your money at any time of the day but don't want to risk going overdrawn, then it may be best to have a basic bank account. However Universal Credit can be paid into different types of accounts.

For more information, visit Money Helper: choosing a bank account for your benefit payments.

Your first Universal Credit Payment

Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, it normally takes more than six weeks after you make your claim to get your first payment. Make your claim as soon as you are entitled to do so.

If you pay rent or have a mortgage and you think a payment will be late because you're waiting to be paid, talk to your landlord or mortgage lender and explain.

After your first Universal Credit payment, you'll be paid monthly.

Managing your money

Receiving a single monthly payment may change how you manage your money. For more advice on managing your money, visit Money Helper: how to budget for a monthly benefit payment.