What's happening?

Universal Credit (UC) is a new benefit from the Department of Work and Pensions for working age people. It can help you to pay living, housing and childcare costs, if you are in work or out of work. It will eventually replace six current means-tested benefits:

  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (income-related)
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) (income-based)
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

Do I need to do anything?  

If you already receive all of the benefits you need from the list above, and your situation hasn't changed, you don't need to do anything yet.

But if you live in Portsmouth and want to make a new claim to any of those six benefits, after 26 September you will need to claim Universal Credit instead. The only exceptions are:

  • families with three or more children - you won't be able to claim UC yet and can still make new claims for any of the six benefits listed above.
  • people living in sheltered, supported or temporary housing - you can claim UC, but should claim Housing Benefit for help with your rent costs.

Use this postcode checker to find out if Universal Credit has been introduced in your area.

What happens when I apply for Universal Credit?  

If you are receiving any of the six benefits listed above, they will be cancelled when you apply for UC. Your first UC payment is due around five weeks after you make your claim. You can request an advance before your first payment but this will reduce your future payments until it's repaid.

You must apply for UC online, unless it is impossible for you to claim online or to manage an online account. If you need help to apply online, look in the documents section at the bottom of this page for Where to find help with Universal Credit.

Should I apply for Universal Credit?  

'When should I claim Universal Credit?' tells you whether a change in your situation means you must claim UC, or if you have the choice to stay on the current benefits. This is a more detailed list of changes if your situation is not covered by the document. 

If you have the choice, check whether you will be financially better off or worse off on UC using this online benefit calculator. If you register, you can save your results and also access budgeting tools.

Think about how other aspects of UC will affect you, such as:

  • applying online and managing your claim using an online account with a username and password,
  • receiving just one monthly payment that includes your rent costs, based on your circumstances and income the previous month,
  • providing proof of income and expenses every month if you are self-employed,

If you have recently finished work and have not yet received your final pay packet, you might be better off claiming after you have been paid. 

If you are not sure whether you need to claim UC, or if you will be better off, look in the documents section at the bottom of this page for Where to find help with Universal Credit.

How do I apply for Universal Credit?

This is a guide to the information you'll need to be able to complete your claim. If you don't have every piece of information, don't delay in making your claim or you will miss out on benefit. You must provide all the information as soon as possible after making your claim or it could delay your first payment.

You must have an email address that you can access to be able to complete your claim.

To apply for UC, set up your account and complete your claim online

After making your claim online, you must ring to make an appointment at the Jobcentre - if you don't, your claim could be cancelled. Check your To Do List in your online account for details.

More information about Universal Credit

The DWP website's Understanding Universal Credit gives simple information about all the key aspects of Universal Credit. There are also short videos to explain how it works. You can also find out how to prepare for Universal Credit.

Information for landlords

If your tenant receives Housing Benefit and makes a claim for Universal Credit, they should receive two weeks' additional Housing Benefit to help the transition. After that, their Housing Benefit will stop and the council will no longer be involved in helping with their rent costs, unless they request a Discretionary Housing Payment.

The DWP provides guidance to explain what Universal Credit means for landlords.

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