Universal Credit is being reduced by £20 a week in October
The government has announced plans to reduce Universal Credit rates by equivalent of £20 a week from October 2021. If you receive Universal Credit, your payment will be reduced by £86.67 for each monthly assessment period that ends after 5th October. You can’t appeal against this reduction, so if you’re worried about how you’ll manage on the lower amount, use the information on the Money Advice page to make your money go further.
Universal Credit is a new payment introduced by central government to replace the current benefits:
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (income-related)
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) (income-based)
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
If you are receiving any of these benefits, they will be cancelled when you apply for Universal Credit. Your first payment of Universal Credit is due 5 weeks after you apply.
Most working age people can now apply for Universal Credit, but if you don’t need to apply yet, you might be better off staying on the old benefits for now.
How to apply
To apply for Universal Credit, set up your account and complete your claim on the Gov.UK Universal Credit Application page. After making your claim online, you’ll need to ring the Jobcentre to make an appointment – if you don’t, your claim could be cancelled.
If you can’t manage an online account, you can apply over the phone by ringing the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644. You will need to show why you can’t manage an online account.
Universal Credit is not usually backdated, so if you decide that you need to apply, do it as soon as possible. You should not cancel your other benefits first – claiming Universal Credit will cancel any of the benefits it replaces.
Before you apply, check all the information on this page to make sure it’s the right decision for you. If you would like someone to help you, read our guide on Where to find help on Universal Credit.
Who can't apply
You can’t apply for Universal Credit if you:
- are receiving the Severe Disability Premium (If you meet the criteria but are not receiving Severe Disability Premium, get advice as soon as possible. You could be much worse off if you claim Universal Credit. Find out if you should be receiving it in this guide).
- are over Pension Credit age. You can apply for Universal Credit if either you or your partner are below pension credit age, or you can claim pension credit and housing benefit (until 15 May when the rules change). In this situation, you’re likely to be much better off claiming pension credit).
When do I need to apply?
If you are currently receiving all the benefits you need, you do not need to apply for Universal Credit. If your situation changes, you may be able to adjust your current benefits. But some changes mean that if you want to carry on receiving benefits you must apply for Universal Credit.
This guide covers some of the most common changes, and tells you whether you have the choice to adjust your current benefits, or if you must now claim Universal Credit.
You can learn more about Universal Credit here:
- The DWP website’s Understanding Universal Credit page for key information about claiming.
- Universal Credit in Action’s collection of short YouTube videos explaining how Universal Credit works.
- Our Preparing for Universal Credit page.
- The DWP’s guide for organisations supporting homeless people.
- The Gov.Uk Universal Credit page for more detailed information.