Renfrewshire Council

Universal Credit

What Universal Credit is, who can apply, how to claim Universal Credit, help with making a claim, payments, claimant commitment, other financial help.

On this page:

What Universal Credit is

Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. It's paid either once or twice a month. It is managed and paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

It replaces these benefits and tax credits:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income Based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits

If you already claim one or more of these, you'll continue to get them unless you have a change in your circumstances and your benefits are re-assessed. 

In that case, you need to make a new claim for Universal Credit.

There are only some circumstances where you can make a new claim for Housing Benefit.

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Who can apply for Universal Credit

You may be able to get Universal Credit if you:

  • are on a low income
  • out of work
  • cannot work.

To claim it you must:

  • live in the UK
  • be aged 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you're 16 to 17)
  • be under State Pension age
  • have £16,000 or less in income, savings and investments.

There are some circumstances where you could claim Universal Credit if you: 

  • are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
  • live with your partner
  • are studying or in training
  • are 16 or 17 in some circumstances
  • have a disability or health condition.

See more details on who can apply for Universal Credit on the GOV.UK website.

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How much you could get

How much Universal Credit you get depends on:

  • your standard allowance
  • if you get any extra payments, such as childcare or disability support
  • any deductions you have to pay, such as paying back an advance, paying a bill, or other income you get
  • how much you earn if you're working.

See how much Universal Credit you could get on the GOV.UK website.

If you're working, how much you earn may affect your payments. 

This includes if you or your partner and are employed or self employed.

See how your earnings affect your payments on the GOV.UK website.

You can use free benefits calculators to give you an estimate of what you could be entitled to.

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If you've had a letter telling you to claim Universal Credit

Migration notice letter

If the letter has a deadline for you to claim Universal Credit, this is a 'Migration Notice'.

This means that one or more of your benefits or tax credits will end in the next three months, and you need to move to Universal Credit before the deadline. 

Letter without a deadline

If the letter doesn't have a deadline on it, but it say you'll have to claim Universal Credit, you don't have to move to Universal Credit unless you want to. 

However, you won't be able to claim any of your old benefits once you move to Universal Credit. 

What to do next

If you get a Migration Notice or a letter to move to Universal Credit, contact our Advice Works team or Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau first. 

They can make sure make sure you continue to get financial support and check if you'll be better off on Universal Credit before you claim, depending on your personal circumstances. 

More information about moving to Universal Credit

You can find more information about moving to Universal Credit from other benefits on the Citizens Advice Scotland website.

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How to make a claim for Universal Credit

Apply online

You can make a claim for Universal Credit on the GOV.UK website.

To apply, you will need:

  • an account with a bank, building society or credit union
  • an email address
  • a mobile number
  • internet access
  • proof of your identity.

You'll also need to provide information about:

  • your housing, such as how much rent you pay
  • your earnings if you work
  • any disability or health condition that affects your work
  • if you pay for childcare
  • any savings and investments you have.

If you don't have a bank or building society account, you can find more information about getting one here:

It's important that you make your claim as soon as you can. Your claim will only start from the date that you submit it.

Once you've applied, you'll get a username, password and 10 to 12 digit personal number, which you'll need to manage your Universal Credit account in the future.

If you do not have your own computer, tablet or smartphone, there are other places you can get online for free, including:

Apply by phone

If you can't make a claim online, you can call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 instead. Calls to this number are free.

Other ways to get help with making a claim

You can also get help to claim:

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How you are paid Universal Credit

You can get paid once or twice a month in Scotland. 

Your first payment

Your first payment usually takes around 5 weeks. If you need money while you wait for your first payment, you can apply for an advance.

Find out how to get an advance on your first payment on the GOV.UK website.

Paying your rent

If you have claimed for help with your rent, this will be part of your Universal Credit payment. 

You can ask for it to be paid directly to your landlord or paid to you.

If you choose to pay your landlord from your Universal Credit, the DWP will contact them to arrange to pay them directly.

It is your responsibility to make sure your rent is paid in full and on time. 

If your Universal Credit award includes your rent but does not cover the whole amount, you may be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment to help with the shortfall.

Your monthly assessment period

The amount of Universal Credit you're paid is calculated every month. This is called your monthly assessment period. You must report a change in your circumstances to make sure you get paid the right amount.

A change in circumstances could include starting or finishing a job, having a child, moving home, changes to your health or ability to work, or changing your personal details like your email or phone number.

How to report a change in circumstances on the GOV.UK website. 

Change how you're paid

If you need help managing a single monthly payment, you can ask to change how you're paid.

See how to change how you're paid on the GOV.UK website.

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Your Claimant Commitment

Your Claimant Commitment is an agreement of your responsibilities as part of accepting your Universal Credit claim. 

When you apply for Universal Credit, you will be assigned with a Work Coach. How often you meet with your Work Coach will depend on your individual circumstances, and what you have agreed to within your Claimant Commitment.

Let your Work Coach know about any disabilities, caring responsibilities or childcare issues you have.

You must do everything you agree to in your commitment or your payment could be reduced or stopped. Your payments may be cut or stopped for a period of time. This is known as a sanction.

If you think that your Universal Credit has been sanctioned unfairly, you can contact our Advice Works team for advice. They may also be able to support you to dispute the sanction decision.

Find out more about your claimant commitment and sanctions on the GOV.UK website.

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Find out more about Universal Credit

You can find about Universal Credit and apply for it online on the GOV.UK website. 

The Understanding Universal Credit website will also help you understand what Universal Credit is, or you can watch these short videos abut Universal Credit on YouTube. 

You can contact Universal Credit:

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Other financial help

If you need help to set up your home, or you and your family have been hit by a crisis, you can apply for a Crisis Grant or a Community Care Grant.

You may also be able to apply for a council tax reduction orother help with the cost of living.

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