Universal Credit is a monthly payment for working-age people who are on a low income or out of work.
It replaces the following benefits:
- Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance
- Income-based Employment and Support allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credits
- Child Tax Credits
- Housing Benefit
What does it mean to me?
The biggest change is that you will receive one single monthly payment, including your housing cost. This means it’s your responsibility to pay your rent.
It is paid monthly, in arrears, direct to a bank account and is managed online.
Universal Credit is now being rolled out so that if you are making a new claim for one of the benefits listed above, you will instead be directed to make a claim for Universal Credit.
How do I prepare for Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, so you'll have to wait 1 month and 7 days before your first payment. Therefore it's a good idea to make extra payments on your rent accounts to build up a credit.
If you won’t have enough money to live on and pay your rent while you wait for your first payment, you can ask your Job centre work coach for an advance payment. You’ll repay it through your regular Universal Credit payments – they’ll be lower until you pay it back.
If you are moving to Universal Credit from either Income Support, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance or Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance
You are now entitled to an extra two weeks payment. This is because the end date for either of these benefits now ends two weeks later and not the day before the initial Universal Credit claim is made. Please note this only applies to the benefits listed above (For Housing Benefit, see next paragraph) so if for example, you are receiving tax credits, these will stop as soon as the Universal Credit claim is made.
If you are moving from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit
You will continue to receive Housing Benefit for an extra 2 weeks after the start of the Universal Credit claim. This is to help with your housing costs while you wait for your first payment of Universal Credit, which will take at least five weeks. The payment will be made automatically when you apply for Universal Credit and you don't need to pay it back. It also won't affect how much Universal Credit you get. If you are moving into a different local authority area, you will need to speak to the local authority you are leaving and make sure they make this payment to you.
Please note when applying for Universal Credit
On your application, when you are asked “Do you pay rent for the home where you live?” you should answer “Yes”, even if your rent is currently covered by Housing Benefit. If you fail to do so, your claim will NOT include a rent element and is unlikely to be backdated to the date of your initial claim. To get help with your council tax payments you need to contact your local Authority.
You'll need a bank account to receive Universal Credit. Open a bank account with a Direct Debit facility. Direct Debit enables you to pay your rent automatically each month.
How will I be paid?
Payments will be made once a month, into your bank or building society. If your rent was previously paid directly to us, it will now be paid into your bank account and arrangements need to be made to pay that rent to us.
You’ll need to arrange a Direct Debit payment, set up to come out of your bank account the same day that you receive your Universal Credit payment.
You will be required to pay the entire rent amount due to us, not just the amount of housing element you receive in your Universal Credit payment. If you are not sure how much this is, you can view your rent amount in your online account or contact our team. To make the payments automatically, we advise that you set up a Direct Debit.
Don't risk your home
Once your Universal Credit is in payment, your rent will no longer be paid directly to us via Housing Benefit and you will be responsible for prioritising your rent from the single payment. Your home is at risk if you do not ensure your rent is paid on time.
We often link to other websites, but we can't be responsible for their content.
Here are some videos you might find useful
Get help and support from our teams
We can help with budgeting, maximising your income through benefit take up and can point you in the right direction for more specialist help.
Get help and support from Places for People Scotland Financial Inclusion Team