Can I apply for Universal Credit?
The coronavirus pandemic has temporarily changed the way we live and as a result many of us have lost jobs, been furloughed or are working reduced hours.
Universal Credit is a payment option that can help with living costs; such as rent, food and utility bills. Jamie Ellis, Johnnie Johnson Housing’s Welfare Benefits Advisor, has been encouraging tenants to apply for Universal Credit if they need help with paying rent and don’t already have a Housing Benefit claim.
‘It is important that people feel supported to apply for Universal Credit and speak to an expert if they’re struggling to claim, or unsure if they should. You can apply whether you have a job or not, or if you’re self-employed or own your own business. We should not allow individuals and families to lose sleep over paying essential bills. The best advice I can give people is to take action swiftly, since claims are not back dated.’
Jamie recommends applying for Universal Credit online or, if that’s not possible, contact the DWP to make a claim over the phone.
‘At the moment, things are constantly changing and as a result a one-to-one discussion can help you to get an understanding of the support that Universal Credit could offer you. There isn’t a ‘one answer fits all’ and unfortunately this can be confusing.’
You may be able to claim for Universal Credit if:
- You are out of work or on a low income
- You are aged 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 or 17)
- You or your partner are under state pension age.
- You have less than £16,000 in savings – if you have a partner, their savings count too (if you’re self-employed, some savings may not count if they’re for business purposes, e.g. tax.)
- You live in the UK.
You cannot claim for Universal Credit if:
- You are in full-time education or training, but people with certain circumstances may still apply.
- If you get the severe disability premium on one of your other benefits or are entitled to it
- You were entitled to the severe disability premium within the last month, and are still eligible for it.
How much could I receive?
It does not matter if you have a job or not, the award will be based on how much you are earning. If you have no income then your maximum award will include a standard allowance, as below, plus help towards any rent payable and then additional amounts if you have children or a health condition that affects your ability to work.
Universal Credit Standard Allowance
Monthly standard allowance
|Single and under 25||£342.72|
|Single and 25 or over||£409.89|
|In a couple and both under 25||£488.59 per couple|
|In a couple and either of you is 25 or over||£594.04 per couple|
How do I apply?
To apply for Universal Credit online visit: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/how-to-claim. If you have no way to apply online, contact the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 328 5644.
Once you’ve completed your application, the DWP will ring you. The call comes from a withheld number and they won’t leave a message, so be sure to answer it!
If you need additional help, Citizens Advice’s Help to Claim Service can support you in the early stages of your Universal Credit claim, from the application, through to your first payment. It’s free, independent, confidential and impartial – 0800 144 8 444