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What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a single payment that has been introduced by the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) that replaces all working-age benefits. So if you claim any of the benefits below you need to be clued up about Universal Credit as it will affect you.

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

How does it work?

  • You’ll get one single payment, paid monthly in arrears. This will include your living costs, housing costs (this is a payment made to you to cover your rent) and childcare costs if you have children.
  • If you’re in a couple, you will both have to submit a claim online and only one of you will receive the payment for both of you.
  • You are responsible for paying your rent directly to SLH.
  • Your Universal Credit payment is paid into your bank account
  • You will be expected to make and manage your claim online.

This page gives you information about how you can prepare now for Universal Credit so that you are in the know when you make a claim. 

How to claim Universal Credit

Get an email address

1. Get an email address

You need to have an email address when you apply for Universal Credit. If you are claiming as a couple, you will each need your own email address.

If you are struggling to create an email address, there is help available. Contact Reach, our employment and training hub, on 0151 285 5680, who will put you in touch with someone who can help.

Open a bank account

2. Open a bank account

You need to have a bank or credit union account when you are making your claim. This is the best way that your Universal Credit payment can be paid to you.

If you haven’t got a bank account when you submit your claim, you can give your bank details to your work coach at your interview. More help on opening a bank account.

Verify yourself

3. Verify yourself online

To submit a claim for Universal Credit you need to verify your identity online. This is to prove you are who you say you are.

Go to www.gov.uk/verify. Don’t worry if you don’t get a chance to do this before you claim for Universal Credit, just ring the helpline on 0800 328 5644 and ask for an appointment to verify your identity.

Make your Universal Credit claim

4. Make your claim

Great news! You’re now ready to make your claim. You can do this at www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit.

You will also need: your national insurance number, details of how much rent you pay, information about your income such as pay slips, details of any savings and childcare payment costs if necessary. If you need help making your claim, our benefits advisors can help you.

Pay your rent

5. Pay your rent

It is your responsibility that your rent is paid. Your claim will consist of a personal allowance and a housing cost.

You will receive this in your bank account as one monthly Universal Credit payment. You will need to pay SLH your full rent payment immediately.

If you don’t, you will fall into rent arrears and this could put you at risk of losing your home.

Ways to pay your rent


6. View your journal each day

You need to view and update your online journal every day.

You will use this journal to record what activities you have completed and make contact with your work coach.

You need to do this daily otherwise your Universal Credit payments will stop.



Universal Credit advice

In-depth advice from our benefits advice team.

Getting an advance payment

One of the big differences between Universal Credit and the way existing benefit payments are paid is that you will be paid monthly in arrears. This means you might have to wait up to five weeks for your first payment.

If you don’t have enough money to live on whilst you wait for your first Universal Credit payment, you can ask for an advance payment. The amount you get could be up to 100% of your Universal Credit payment. Remember, you will be expected to pay your rent if you get an advance payment.

You can apply for an advance payment online or through your work coach as soon as you make your claim for Universal Credit. You’ll usually find out the same day if you can get an advance.

How are the advance payments paid back?

The advance payment is a loan and you pay this back from your ongoing Universal Credit payments over the next 12 months (or sooner). This means you’ll get less each month until it’s paid off. You will not pay any interest.

Need further help?

Call the Universal Credit helpline if you need help applying for an advance payment on 0800 328 5644. Alternatively, speak to SLH’s Benefits Advice team.

Advice for mixed-age couples

Are you over pension age and your partner isn’t? If you are a mixed-age couple and one of you is getting close to being old enough to claim state pension you need to get specialist benefits advice before claiming your state pension.

A 'mixed age couple' is where one member of the couple is pension credit age, whilst their partner is working age.

Since May 2019 legislation means that most 'mixed age couples’ will not be able to claim Pension Credit and continue with Housing Benefit

The majority of mixed-age couples, when they have a change in their circumstances will have no option but to claim Universal Credit.

This change is estimated to save the government £395 million in the first 3 years – but will cost some mixed-age couples at least £7,300 a year.

This is because nearly all mixed-age couples are significantly better off on Pension Credit and Housing Benefit when compared to Universal Credit.

However, not everyone has to claim Universal Credit it depends on each individual circumstance and the timing of your claims makes a difference too.

So if you are a working-age couple and one of you receives a letter asking you to claim pension, take your time, please give our friendly benefits teams a call on 0330 303 3000 option 2 and ask for the benefits team.

They will go through your circumstances and see what’s best for you financially, the rules are complicated so please get help and don’t lose out.

Non-dependent deductions

What are Non-Dependent Deductions?

If your son or daughter on leaving school or full-time education goes into work or claims benefits you will be required to pay what is known as a non-dependent deduction. This means that your universal credit entitlement will reduce. This is because for benefit purposes your son or daughter are classed as now being able to contribute towards your household bills therefore you have more income available to you.

This applies even if you decide not to ask your child to contribute towards your household and you will be responsible for making up the shortfall towards your rent. This amount is based on a standard amount of your UC claim regardless of your child’s earnings. There are times when you may be exempt from this charge, for example, if you are in receipt of Personal Independence Payment. If you are not sure, contact our Benefits Team for advice.

What happens if I am in rent arrears?

If you fall into rent arrears we can apply to the DWP to have you’re your housing cost paid to us directly to cover your rent and ensure your home is no longer at risk. This is called an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA). We can also apply to the DWP for a third-party deduction (rent arrears deductions) which is an amount that is deducted from your personal benefit payment in order to pay off arrears owed to us. The DWP set this amount which can be up to a maximum rate of 20%  of your personal allowance and based on whether you already have other deductions being taken from your ongoing benefits. We don’t determine the amount to be paid and if approved by the DWP, payments will be made directly to us.

Money and debt advice

If you’re struggling to manage your household bills or need debt advice, check out the Government’s Money Helper website. This site will help you get the right advice through a network of trusted partners. You can access free guidance on a range of issues including money troubles, savings, pensions, and retirement, as well as looking up local debt advice services in your area.

Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert website is also a great place to get up-to-date advice around managing your money.

More benefits advice

Benefits Advice Service

Read More

Personal Independence Payment

Read More

Employment and Support Allowance

Read More

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