Who is it for?
Universal Credit is for people on low income or who need help with their living costs.
You could be working (including self-employed or part time) or be out of work.
You are entitled to UC if you are 18 or over but under State Pension age, live in the UK and have £16,000 or less in money, savings and investments.
If you live with a partner their income/savings will effect how much you can claim and you will have to make a joint claim, even if your partner isn’t eligible.
EU, EEA or Swiss citizens may also be eligible but may need settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
How much is it?
This will depend on your personal circumstances and if you are working.
The standard single person allowance is £368.74 per month for people 25+; for a couple and one person is +25 it is £578.82.
If you have children, have a disability or health condition or need help to pay the rent there are additional allowances.
If you’re employed, how much Universal Credit you get depends on your earnings.
For every £1 you earn your payment reduces by 55p.
If you are responsible for a child or have a disability or health condition you are entitled to a ‘work allowance’ which means you can earn a certain amount before the UC payment is reduced.
Anything else I should know?
When you apply for Universal Credit you will be asked to sign a ‘Claimant Commitment’ in which you will agree to complete certain tasks such as write a CV, apply for an agreed number of jobs and attend training courses.
You will be expected to attend regular appointments with a work coach.
If these commitments are not met you will be sanctioned and the money will cut or stopped.
Universal Credit replaces: Housing Benefit; income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA); income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA); Child Tax Credit; Working Tax Credit; and Income Support.
How do I make a claim?
There are several stages involved in claiming Universal Credit, and usually it must be claimed online but it is advisable to seek support.
Citizens Advice Scotland provide a free Help to Claim Helpline available Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm on 0800 023 2581 or contact WD Citizens Advice Bureau on 0800 484 0136 or visit www.wdcab.co.uk/contact-us
If you live with a partner, you both need to create accounts. You cannot claim by yourself.
This article was first published in May 2022 and some details may have changed.