Universal Credit is a new benefit designed to support people who are on a low income or out of work. The aim is to simplify the system by bringing together different benefits (known as 'legacy benefits') and combine them into one single monthly payment called Universal Credit.
Universal Credit will replace the some legacy benefits:
- Child Tax Credits
- Housing Benefit
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credits
Universal Credit does not include council tax reduction, you must apply for this separately from the council.
When does Universal Credit start?
Universal Credit is available to all new claimants who meet the gateway conditions; basically single people who are unemployed. This is known as the 'live service'.
The 'full service' is being rolled out across the UK. This will open Universal Credit to all new claimants, regardless if they meet the gateway conditions, and will include new features.
From 8th November 2017, Universal Credit full service will expand to three postcode areas within the Aberdeenshire Council boundary. This means that all households in postcodes AB30 1, DD9 7 and DD10 0, who would otherwise have claimed the legacy benefits, should apply for Universal Credit regardless if they meet gateway conditions.
Presently families with more than two children, who have not been in receipt of Universal Credit within the previous six months, will not be able to claim Universal Credit. Families with more than two children should continue to claim the legacy benefits as appropriate.
If you are currently receiving any of the legacy benefits then carry on claiming as normal. The Department for Work and Pensions will contact you when you are due to move over to Universal Credit.
How do I claim Universal Credit?
You should apply online. A face-to-face interview will follow. If you don't have internet access you can go to your local library or Jobcentre to use a computer. For more information about internet access and support in Aberdeenshire please view our digital access leaflet (pdf 2.18MB).
The DWP have published a useful YouTube video that explains Universal Credit's online services.
If you are eligible for Universal Credit then you will normally get one monthly payment direct to your bank account. If you get help with your rent this, and any eligible service charges you are due, will be included in your monthly payment and you will be responsible for paying your full rental charges to us.
In some circumstances the housing costs included in your Universal Credit are paid directly to your landlord. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will advise if this is the case.
Under Universal Credit full service people in Scotland will have the option, after their first Universal Credit payment, to be paid monthly or twice monthly and have the housing costs in the Universal Credit award paid to themselves or their Landlord.
How to get ready for Universal Credit
The Money Advice Service website provides information on how to get ready for Universal Credit and offers online support for those claiming Universal Credit. For additional support and advice, telephone the Universal Credit Service Centre on 0345 6000 723.
There is also a leaflet which lists all Advice Agencies and Useful Contacts (pdf 202KB) available in Aberdeenshire. You can find out more about Universal Credit on the Department for Work and Pensions website.