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Universal credit

This content applies to England

There are pending updates to this page following Brexit and the end of transition period on 31 December 2020

Universal credit is a means-tested benefit for people of working age and is intended to cover both living expenses and accommodation costs.

Overview of universal credit

An overview of universal credit including its administration and roll out, benefits it replaces and migration to the new system. 

Eligibility for universal credit

Working age claimants entitled to universal credit and the categories of exceptions, such as persons from abroad, students or claimants under 18. 

Universal credit claims and penalties

Universal credit claim can be made online or via telephone helpline, and there may be an investigation and penalties for fraud or negligence. 

Calculating universal credit

Universal credit is made up of a standard allowance and five additional elements, with deductions of claimant's earned and unearned income and capital. 

How universal credit is paid

Universal credit is normally made as one payment each month into a claimant's bank account. The DWP has the power to alter this arrangement. 

Universal credit deductions to repay debt

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can deduct limited amounts from Universal Credit each month to repay debt owed to DWP or other creditors. 

Changes in circumstances

It is a claimant's responsibility to report changes of circumstances to DWP. A change will affect benefit from the first day of an assessment period. 

Universal credit claimant commitment

Most people claiming universal credit must accept allocated work-related commitments and will have their universal credit reduced if they do not comply. 

Universal credit payment condition

The housing cost element under universal credit can be claimed for rent payments and service charges. 

Universal credit liability condition

To be eligible for the housing costs element of universal credit the claimant must be liable to make the payments in respect of the accommodation. 

Universal credit occupation condition

Housing cost element under universal credit will only be paid towards the accommodation the claimant occupies as their home, with some temporary absence allowed. 

Revoked 18 to 21 year olds condition

Single 18-21 year-old claimants are currently entitled to the housing costs element of universal credit. 

Size-related criteria

Calculation of the housing costs element under universal credit for claimants in private and social rented sector, bedroom entitlement and under-occupancy. 

Universal credit non-dependant deductions

A housing cost contribution is deducted from housing cost element if a non-dependant lives with a claimant renting in the social or private rented sectors. 

Universal credit for owner-occupiers

Owner occupiers may receive help with the interest on loans secured on their home through a government support for mortgage interest loan. 

Claimant challenges to UC decisions

To challenge a universal credit decision, a claimant must first apply for a reconsideration and only then appeal to the tribunal, both within set time limits. 

Transitional protection for universal credit claimants

Transitional protection for claimants who move from existing benefits to universal credit (UC) as part of managed migration. 

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