How do I claim universal credit?
This section aims to help you claim universal credit and where to go for more help.
Who can claim?
Universal Credit (UC) is currently being rolled out. In some areas, only people who met very strict conditions (called Gateway conditions) have been able to claim – this limited level of UC is called Live Service. The ‘live service’ system of UC was rolled out to all areas in the Great Britain by April 2016 but from 1 January 2018, DWP stopped taking any more brand new claims for UC in live service areas. This means that people in postcodes that were part of the live service need to claim legacy benefits (such as tax credits) instead of UC until the UC full service becomes available in their area. You can find out the position for your postcode area using our free tool.
Those already claiming UC in live service areas will continue with their UC claims. In addition, those who successfully made a UC claim in a live service area which ended due to an increase in earnings, may still have their claim restarted automatically if their earnings fall within six months of the award ending. And, where someone joins an existing UC claim (by becoming part of a couple with an existing UC claimant) this will be classed as a change in circumstances and they can continue claiming UC as a couple. Similarly, where a couple who are already claiming UC in a live service area separate, this will also be classed as a change of circumstances and both claimants will remain on UC (if appropriate).
The full (or ‘digital’) service of UC is rolling out across the UK. Where UC is available in a full service area it has replaced tax credits, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefit, income-related employment support allowance for most claimants, although there are a few exceptions. By April 2016, there were only a handful of test digital areas across the UK, however the digital full service has been gradually rolled across all areas at a much quicker pace during 2017 and, following a short break between February and April 2018, the roll-out is expected to continue during the rest of 2018. All live service areas will eventually be changed to digital full service areas.
This complicated roll-out means that only some people are eligible to make a claim for UC – this is not the same thing as having entitlement to UC. Even if you are eligible to claim, you may not be entitled to the benefit once you are assessed.
See our who can claim universal credit section for more information about whether to claim universal credit or tax credits.
How do I claim?
You will usually need to claim UC online, using a computer.
To claim, you will need to use the GOV.UK website and follow the instructions.
You can check what the position is in your postcode area using our UC postcode tool.
What if I do not have or cannot use a computer?
Claiming by computer may prove difficult for some, who either do not have or can not access a computer for various reasons and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed there will be telephone support and the option of face to face support for people who have difficulties claiming on line.
If DWP agree, they may allow you to make your claim by phone. In addition, the DWP are introducing a new system of computers in their Jobcentre Plus offices which may be available to claimants to set-up their UC claims.
If you do not have a computer, you may be able to use one in your local library or welfare group or your local Jobcentre Office may be able to help you.
Is there a helpline?
Claimants can get help with their online claim by calling the UC helpline:
Phone: 0345 600 0723
Textphone: 0345 600 0743
For more detailed information about claiming UC, please visit our website for advisers and the Government information on the following pages:
RevenueBenefits – Universal credit – How to claim
RevenueBenefits – Universal credit – Who can claim
GOV.UK – claiming universal credit online