Bank Holiday Monday

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Universal credit is being introduced gradually across the country. In some areas only single people can apply at the moment, in other areas other claimants can apply.

There is a timetable for the introduction of universal credit.

You can claim as an individual or jointly as a couple. You usually have to be aged 18 or over to make a claim. Young people under the age of 18, students and people not usually resident in the UK are not usually able to claim but there are some exceptions.

Find out from Gov.uk which Jobcentre areas you can claim Universal Credit in.

You can't claim universal credit if both you and your partner are over pension credit age. You claim pension credit instead.

Most claims for universal credit are made online. You are not entitled to universal credit if your income from other sources or savings is too high for you to qualify.

Apply online

Help with paying your rent when universal credit is introduced

Universal credit is replacing housing benefit if you need help paying your rent and are of working age.

Your claim form includes help with housing costs, so a separate claim isn't needed.

Universal credit is usually paid directly to you each month. It is your responsibility to budget and pay your rent from your universal credit and any other income you may have.

There may be some circumstances when payments can be made direct to your landlord instead. If you have rent arrears, contact your landlord and Jobcentre Plus about direct payments. Your landlord can also contact Jobcentre Plus. 

Help with mortgages when universal credit is introduced

You can get universal credit to help pay your mortgage interest, but only if you are not in paid work.

You will not get any money to help pay your mortgage for the first 9 months after you claim.

Universal credit claimants who have mortgages may have to reconsider their housing options if their benefits are too low to allow them to keep up with their payments. 

If you do not keep up with mortgage payments, you could build up mortgage arrears and risk repossession.

Universal credit is paid monthly

Under universal credit, payments are made to you every month. They are made in arrears, not in advance. It may sometimes be possible for payments to be made more frequently, or to be split and paid to more than one person.  

You will usually not be entitled to any payment for the first seven days after you claim.

It may take a while to get used to budgeting for a month at a time if you have been used to managing your money from week to week. If you need help to manage while you wait for your first payment, you may be able to claim a short-term advance of universal credit.

You must set up a bank, building society or credit union account to receive your universal credit payments.

Find out more from the Money Advice Service about opening a bank account

The benefit cap limits the amount paid

Universal credit is subject to the benefit cap.

Your universal credit can be reduced so that the total benefits you receive is not more than £2,167 per month for couples with children or lone parents, and £1,517 per month for a single person. The cap includes payments paid to help towards the rent or mortgage. Some benefits are excluded from the cap.

These benefit cap rates will be reduced, probably in autumn 2016.

Find out more about the benefit cap