Universal Credit - what is it?


Universal Credit logo

What is Universal Credit?

Outlined in The Universal Credit Regulations 2013 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, Universal Credit is a consolidation of the six means tested benefits and will be paid once per month directly to a nominated bank account. Universal Credit will replace the following:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Jobseeker’s allowance
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support


How will this affect your rental payments and claims?

Universal Credit will be paid to you once per month directly and will include any money you currently receive to help pay your rent. It is then your responsibility to pay Watford Community Housing directly to meet the terms of your tenancy agreement.

If you are currently receiving housing benefits you will need to await transition to Universal Credit and there is nothing you will need to do unless informed otherwise. However if you are a new claimant you may have to claim under Universal Credit, in which case it will take approximately 6 weeks for your first payment to arrive.

You should be offered a payment advance if you will struggle to wait for your first payment when claiming Universal Credit for the first time. However, please remember that any advance payments will need to be paid back.

If you haven't already got a bank account, it's a good idea to get one so that you can set up a direct debit to make paying your rent easier.


Working whilst receiving Universal Credit

Under the terms of Universal Credit you are entitled to work as many hours per week as you wish without complete removal of your payments. Instead, your Universal Credit payments will be gradually reduced as you earn more.


Claiming Universal Credit

If you are eligible and are not currently in receipt of benefit payments, you may apply for Universal Credit on the Government’s Apply for Universal Credit page. Or to search for more information, check the official Government Univeral Credit page.

This video is really helpful and shows you how to make a claim.


Watch the DWP's summary of Universal Credit


Further information

For more information on Universal Credit consult the GOV.UK Your claim journey website.

Alternatively, for further advice on Universal Credit, you can phone Watford Borough Council on 01923 226 400 or Three Rivers District Council 01923 776 611 or consult the official government page on Universal Credit here.

If you are applying for Universal Credit and need assistance, you can phone the Universal Credit Helpline on 0345 600 0723  between 8am - 6pm, Monday to Friday (closed on bank and public holidays).

Calls are free if you have free or inclusive minutes as part of your phone contract. Otherwise ask them to call you back, as the call may cost you up to 40p per minute if you’re calling from a mobile. It’s particularly important to do this if you’re making your claim by phone, as this can take up to 40 minutes.

If you are looking for work the National Careers service has an online e-learning module that can help with this here.

  1. The Bedroom Tax – changes to the way housing benefit will be paid
  2. Benefit Cap – there will be a limit on how much you can receive each week
  3. Universal Credit – which is replacing some existing benefits
  4. Direct Payments
  5. Changes to Council Tax Benefits