Universal Credit is a new welfare benefit that combines and replaces the major working-age income-related benefits.
These are: Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.
As well as combining several benefits into one, Universal Credit is different from existing benefits in a number of ways.
- Universal Credit will be paid monthly rather than weekly.
- You will need to claim Universal Credit online.
- If you have housing costs, you will no longer be able to claim Housing Benefit. Instead, your Universal Credit will contain a housing costs element for your rent. This will be paid directly to you, along with the rest of your Universal Credit, not to your landlord. It will be your responsibility to pay your rent out of this money. However, there are different rules if you live in supported housing or temporary accommodation.
- The Benefit Cap (£441 per week and £296 per week) is incorporated into Universal Credit.
If you are on Universal Credit you can still claim Council Tax Reduction from the Council. The quickest way to claim for benefits is by completing the online Council Tax Reduction form.
Receiving Universal Credit
Once you receive Universal Credit, it is not possible to return to Housing Benefit, until you are of pensionable age.
From 12 December 2018, all of Great Britain, including Kensington and Chelsea, has Universal Credit.
This means that you can no longer make a new claim for Housing Benefit, unless one of the following applies:
- you, and your partner if you have one, are of pensionable age
- you live in supported accommodation
- you have been placed in temporary accommodation by the council
you receive Severe Disability Premium
If you already receive benefits that will be replaced by Universal Credit
If you are already on a benefit that will be replaced by Universal Credit, you will stay on that benefit until:
- you have a change in your circumstances that would have meant you would claim another existing benefit (you will have to claim Universal Credit instead), or
- you are asked by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to claim Universal Credit (this is likely to be between 2020 and 2024).
Special rule for people entitled to Severe Disability Premium
Severe Disability Premium is an extra allowance paid to some people who are entitled to certain benefits, for example:
- Personal Independence Payment daily living component
- Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate
From 16 January 2019, people entitled to Severe Disability Premium will be able to claim existing benefits, and will not be able to claim Universal Credit.
Special rule for couples where one person has reached pensionable age and the other has not:
From 15 May 2019, the age of the younger member of the couple will determine which benefits you can claim.
So, a couple where the younger member is under pensionable age is no longer able to claim Housing Benefit, and has to claim Universal Credit in order to get help to pay the rent.
Furthermore, where one member of couple who were already on Housing Benefit reaches pensionable age on any date from 15 May 2019, they will have to claim Universal Credit, and their Housing Benefit will come to an end.