Universal Credit has not – let’s be honest – got the best of reputations. The implementation of the ambitious plan to incorporate all the benefits in to one didn’t go to plan. Many people, particularly those with disabilities, have told us that errors and poor decisions have caused much distress.
However, as the UK faces longer on coronavirus lockdown and people struggle without work because of the coronavirus, Universal Credit is a vital lifeline. For many people who have never claimed benefits – or haven’t done for years – it’ll come as a big surprise.
Over a million people applied for Universal Credit in just the first two weeks of coronavirus lockdown, so lots of people are in the same boat.
The nature of the benefits system is such that there are too many allowances to go in to here. Instead, here is our quick guide to claiming.
As with anything bureaucratic, applying can be a little frustrating. We understand phone waiting times have come down but there’s still likely to be delays if you call.
You can start the whole process online, but you’ll need the following information:
You need ID too, like:
If you haven’t got this information, don’t worry. Think about what you might have that could be appropriate and call. The same goes for you if you’re away from home, for example helping a relative.
0800 328 5644
Who can claim?
You can generally claim if you are:
How much do I get?
It varies depending on your age, marital status and:
How much can I earn?
If you are on low pay, reduced hours, have an income like a small pension, have savings or investments, all of these things can reduce your payment. The rules are very complicated, so tell the UC people what your situation is and they’ll explain what you’re entitled to.
MoneySavingExpert has a benefits calculator here: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/benefits-check/
I’m in dire financial straits
Call and hold on the line for as long as it takes. You may be able to get an advance, but be prepared to give a lot of information about your situation.