The payment is replacing six different “legacy” benefits, and these are Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, and Income-related Employment and Support Allowance. Eligibility rules for Universal Credit apply, but it may be those on a low income or who are out of work may be able to claim the benefit.
During this waiting time, the eligible person can apply for an advance, in order to help them with their living costs.
However, it’s very important to be aware that this advance needs to be paid back – beginning out of the person’s first payment.
The claimant can choose how many months the advance is paid back over, but currently, it needs to be repaid within 12 months.
“You do not pay interest on it – the total amount you pay back is the same,” explains the Government website.
The Money Advice Service, an independent service set up by government, has highlighted why this means it is important to apply for the benefit as soon as the person thinks they are entitled to do so.
“It’s really important you apply for Universal Credit as soon as you’re entitled, even if you think you’re not eligible,” the website states.
“If you find a new job, or your circumstances change before your application is complete, you will be able to cancel it.
“But at least you will not have to start your application from scratch and will not have to wait for your first payment.
“This could help you avoid needing to take out an Advance Payment.”
After the first payment, the money is paid once per month, usually into the person’s bank, building society or credit union account.
It can include an amount for housing, which the person will usually need to pay to their landlord.
It’s possible to find out how much a person may be able to get via Universal Credit by using an independent and online benefits calculator.
How much is Universal Credit?
The payment is made up of a monthly standard allowance, which depends on a person’s circumstances such as whether they are applying as a single person or a couple, and their age.
A person may be able to get more money on top of their standard allowance, if they’re eligible.
They may be entitled to the extra amounts if they:
- Have children
- Have a disability or health condition which prevents them from working
- Need help paying their rent.