Universal credit is being introduced in stages across the UK. It will eventually replace housing benefit, income support, employment and support allowance, jobseeker's allowance and some tax credits.
What is universal credit?
Universal credit is a new way of paying benefits. It brings together several different benefits and combines them into one monthly payment which goes straight into your bank account. Under universal credit you'll be expected to either look for work or take action to find work.
Universal credit will replace:
- housing benefit
- income-based jobseeker's allowance
- income-related employment and support allowance
- income support
- child tax credits
- working tax credits.
Many benefits will continue to exist:
- Disability living allowance
- Contribution-based jobseeker's allowance.
Universal credit is made up of a 'standard allowance' and potentially five extra 'elements':
- child element and disabled child additions
- childcare element
- carer element
- limited capability for work element
- housing element.
When will I start to get universal credit?
People who made new benefit claims from October 2013 were the first people to start to receive universal credit. It will be introduced for other benefits claimants gradually from 2014 through to 2017.
How do I claim universal credit?
Claims for universal credit will be made and managed through an online account. If you need help making a claim you can call the universal credit helpline on 0845 600 0723.
It's very important that you provide the correct information in your universal credit claim. If you get an overpayment because of wrong information in your claim you could be fined up to £50.
How and when will I get a universal credit payment?
Universal credit payments will be made monthly and they'll go straight into your bank account. This means that you need to make a monthly budget to make sure that you can afford important payments, like your rent. If you think you'll have trouble preparing for getting your benefit in one payment speak to a money adviser who will be able to help you make a monthly budget.
What happens to my universal credit payments if I start work or increase my hours?
If you start work, or start working more hours, your benefits won't stop automatically. The payments will be gradually reduced the more you earn.
Introduction across Scotland
Inverness was the first council area where Universal credit was introduced.
Universal credit will then be rolled out across Scotland on the following dates:
Between September - November 2015
Aberdeen City Council
Dundee City Council
South Ayrshire Council
South Lanarkshire Council
West Lothian Council
Between December 2015 - April 2016
East Ayrshire Council
East Dunbartonshire Council
East Renfrewshire Council
Perth and Kinross Council.
These areas have had Universal credit extended to them already:
City of Edinburgh Council
North Lanarkshire Council
West Dunbartonshire Council
Dumfries and Galloway Council
East Lothian Council
Scottish Borders Council
Eilean Siar Council
Orkney Islands Council
Shetland Islands Council
Glasgow City Council