What is Universal Credit? Can I get it?

What is Universal Credit? Can I get it?
Written by Mark Grimley
Published on 23rd August 2017
Updated on 19th January 2022
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The new Universal Credit system has received plenty of criticism. The good news is, the government is listening and changes are being made. This guide will give you the rundown on Universal Credit and what you can do to make up any money shortfalls.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit (UC) is a single monthly payment being gradually launched throughout the UK to replace these benefits and tax credits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Claiming benefits in Northern Ireland? Take a look at the NI Direct website.
You may be able to claim UC if you’re out of work or on a low income. To find out if you could claim or how much you’re entitled to, use this Universal Credit Calculator.

So, what do I do now?

If you’re new to benefits, you will need to make an application online. You will then be asked to visit your local Jobcentre for an interview that you must go to. You could be denied Universal Credit if you don’t turn up. It’s then a five week wait until your first payment. Already claiming benefits? If your circumstances have changed (e.g. a partner has moved in) you will need to claim Universal Credit. If your circumstances haven’t changed, you won’t be asked to move over to Universal Credit until 2019.

Wait, I’m still confused about Universal Credit and what I can claim?

Don’t panic, Gov.uk can provide you with personal advice on where, how and what benefits you can claim. Here’s their contact details.

Gov.uk Universal Credit Phone Numbers:

Tel: 0800 328 9344

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Welsh language: 0800 328 1744

Benefits Advice Websites:
Use this Universal Credit Calculator to find out if you could make a claim.

I’m late getting my Universal Credit payments, what can I do?

There’s been plenty of concern around Universal Credit and knowing where you stand can be a real headache. Choose Wisely’s research shows almost 40% of Brits were willing to reduce spending on everyday items when money is tight.

Already keeping a close eye? You’ve got options to top up your income:

Most importantly, take charge of your finances and ask for help! The sooner you ask, the sooner you can make claims or start cutting back on costs. Call Money Helper (0800 011 3797) or use their live chat service

Find credit cards for bad credit

Have bad credit? Have a look at the full range of credit cards and compare your options using a Choose Wisely comparison table.

Mark Grimley
Written by
Mark Grimley
Head of Partnerships & Take Control Author at Choose Wisely

Mark joined Choose Wisely in 2015. He continues to work in close contact with the providers, brokers and journalists operating in the world of consumer credit.