The Universal Credit Helpline

| posted in: Universal Credit | 26 Comments

Universal Credit HelplineThe DWP has recently set up the Universal Credit Helpline (Telephone: 0845 600 0723 and Textphone: 0845 600 0743) to answer questions on Universal Credit and to help people make an online claim. We wanted to know how the Helpline was working.

To find out, I put it to the test. I asked them questions often posed to us in comments on our FAQ page to see how their answers compared to our knowledge of Universal Credit. I made a new call for each question with some time lapsed in between so that I could speak to multiple advisors.

 

The Process

The Helpline has an automated system to filter calls but rather than the usual menu format, you simply state the reason you have called. This system works well for simple things like ‘making a claim’ but can be frustrating for more complex issues.

Once I was put through to an advisor, things were much easier. I did not have to wait on hold more than 30 seconds on any call but this may be because not many people know about the Helpline yet. The advisors were more than happy to answer my questions about Universal Credit (as best they could) without asking any of my personal details.  Only once I was asked for my postcode and this was used to reassure me that I would not yet be affected by Universal Credit.

 

The Advice

Most of the information that Helpline advisors give is readily available online (including in our FAQ page), so it will not be repeated here.  However they also give new information not available elsewhere.  Unfortunately, this means that it cannot be fact-checked.

Can I get payments more frequently?

On the very popular question of how to get Universal Credit payments more often, the Universal Credit Helpline gives information on how the process might look for claimants.  The advisor told me that claimants could request more frequent payments in a letter to the DWP detailing their personal circumstances (for example, if they have difficulty managing money or if they need to pay a bill earlier than usual) and should give as much information as possible.  This letter would then go to a “decision-maker” who would assess the request.

Can my housing benefit be paid directly to my landlord?

When asked if I could still have my housing benefit paid directly to my landlord, the Helpline advises that this would be possible if I kept missing payments.  The advisor says that the arrears threshold – the amount of missed payments that triggers the switch from direct payments to payments to the landlord – would be different for every local authority which is a detail we have not heard about.

 

Overall, the Universal Credit Helpline advisors are friendly and knowledgeable.  I would recommend that people worried about Universal Credit try it out.  Do you have a question that you would like to ask the Helpline?  Give it a call on 0845 600 0723 and let us know how helpful you found it in the comments below.

 

(Please note that calls to 0845 numbers are typically charged at between 1p and 10.5p per minute for landline customers and between 12p and 41p per minute for calls on a mobile.)

26 Responses

  1. andrew Gosden

    My son wasted £5 trying to get through and failing. Eventually I conferenced him in from my phone. Then they told him he would get nothing until April despite having been made redundant with no notice at the end of January. This was because his January pay was late… How is someone who doesn’t have a landline or a spare £5 supposed to manage?

    • Dear Andrew,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. We agree that the helpline should be accessible to everyone at a standard rate, or ideally free of charge.

      For other chargeable phone numbers, saynoto0870.com is a helpful website that provides alternative local numbers. Unfortunately a local number for the Universal Credit helpline isn’t available at this time but we have put in a request. We will update this page if we are able to find one.

  2. Maureen Billinghurst

    I have received my Tax Credit renewal, i understand that i have now change to universal credit and that i will receive child tax credit, but do i only now receive child tax credit?

    • Hello Maureen, thanks for dropping by!

      Universal Credit will change the way you apply for benefits, and how you receive support. Firstly, you will no longer receive tax credits – your Child Tax Credit will now be a “child element” within Universal Credit.

      Secondly, the application process is now simplified so that you don’t have to apply for each benefit separately. One single application will allow you to receive all the benefits you are entitled to.

      Feel free to try out our free Universal Credit Calculator – it will give you an indication of what you should receive when you do your Universal Credit application.

      Thanks!

      Daniel

  3. Hello I have been off work from being ill for 6 weeks and now I have been signed off for another month by doctors . I am now not getting paid by work but I am now ssp. I need help as I can’t pay my rent thus month

    • Daniel Cavanillas

      Hello David;

      Unfortunately I do not know enough about your situation to give you any specific advice. However, I would recommend you to go through our free calculator and inputting your current circumstances, including Statutory Sick Pay – that will give you an indication of the benefits you may be able to apply for.

      If you are having trouble paying your rent and are not already receiving this benefit, you may want to apply for Housing Benefit from your local authority. Alternatively, they may be able to help you with a Discretionary Housing Payment.

      Daniel

  4. Cory Lee Jones

    4 days now I’ve gone without food and essentials because of a missing payment, was told it would be sorted by 6 yesterday, coincidence that this is the time your office closes? And this morning still no money, my case was meant to be urgent as it’s affecting my mental health, and today still no money and no way of contacting, so no w I have to starve two more days! This is unacceptable and I want to make a serious complaint!

    • Cory Lee Jones

      Can I have I complaints number?

      • Daniel Cavanillas

        Hi Cory;

        I am sorry to hear that you have had a bad experience with Universal Credit. I’m afraid that we do not manage Universal Credit ourselves, we produce software that helps people to understand the benefits system.

        If you have a complaint about Universal Credit, I would suggest calling the Universal Credit Helpline on 0345 600 0723 and saying that you want to make a complaint about the system. I hope they are able to answer your questions there.

        Good luck;

        Daniel

  5. I have been claiming UC since September, 2014. They have missed a few payments and are not the quickest to answer the telephone but will call you straight back if you ask them to. When you report a payment missing they are supposed to call you back within 3 hours (Mandatory) and can send a Faster Payment to your account, so don’t let them fob you off and make you wait days.

  6. I know how Cory feels I to have not been paid my appeal was reconsidered at the start of the month then yesterday I was told I would get a same day payment as I have health issues and nothing in was told it would be in by 6pm latest yet nothing in my bank woke up this morning still nothing I now have to wait till Monday before I can contact someone again I will be complaining as this is not fair on anyone

  7. Hey there I’ve been claiming universal credit whilst working part time having recently separated… I’ve been accepted for a loan advance £348 which I need to buy a bed and mattress plus a few other bits as I’ve been sleeping on the floor for 3 months waiting to be eligible for the loan. I’m just wondering if I’m able to request a faster payment rather than wait until Tuesday… 3 working days… As I’m due to work a solid 12hr night shift next week which isn’t really going to give me time to shop for a bed etc and is really going to affect my work ethic doing such long shifts and sleeping on the floor all week. Damed if I do damed if I don’t… Thanks for any help.matthew

    • Hi Matt,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I hope you have received the loan by now and managed to get a bed and mattress!

      We spoke to the Universal Credit Helpline and they pointed out that they are able to do same day transfers if necessary (and if contacted early enough in the day), however you need to tell them that you need it as soon as possible. When the claim is approved, they usually make a direct payment, which will take up to 3 working days to arrive. Once this payment is initiated no more changes can be made, so a faster payment has to be agreed ahead of time.

      The helpline (0845 600 0723) might be able to provide more information on your specific case.

  8. I am going to be made redundant in August and will still be doing some “bank work” as a relief library assistant, but this is a 0 hours contract. I am worried because the UC website indicated you don;t get ant mortgage interest if you hve any “earned income” – please can I check this, as if this is the case, I will definitely not be better off working, which the government guarantees I would be.

    • Hi Sheila,

      Thank you for your comment.

      You are right, under Universal Credit home owners will not be entitled to any mortgage support if they have any earned income. You can try our Universal Credit Calculator to test different employment option to see when you would be better off in work.

  9. Sheila Arnstrong

    My son has ran up a huge phone bill ringing universal credits, fantastically huge bill. Can he claim back for these calls

    • Daniel Cavanillas

      Hi Sheila;

      Thanks for waiting for a response.

      We have spoken to the Universal Credit Helpline, and unfortunately it appears that there is no process for claiming back these costs. They claim this is because the costs are imposed by the phone company as opposed to the Universal Credit Helpline.
      I hope this helps,

      Policy in Practice

  10. Dave stewart

    My son missed an appointment at universal credit in june his payments were stopped untill he went back in early October.he has not missed an appointment since but when we called U C because he has had no money we were told he was on an 80 day sanction with still 44 days to go, please can you explain how this works.

  11. I have undertaken a work trial so informed UC appropriately. One month later this is not viable so can I resume my UC claim?

    • Leonardo Kellaway

      Hi Liasa,

      Yes – sort of. Universal Credit works so that you can continue your claim whilst you move in and out of work, it then adjusts appropriately depending on the number of hours you work and your salary. If your employer is registered on the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) in real time system, then this system shares earning information with Universal Credit, if not, you will need to self-report your earnings. This will make sure you get the right amount of UC.

      You therefore do not need to “resume” your claim as it remains active for 6 months from the point you are no longer eligible for UC – check page 6 of this document for more information

      Hope this helps.

      Leonardo

  12. I had to call Universal Credit everyday for more than a week as nobody could answer my housing issue. On average I would wait for around 25 mins before speaking to someone and calling from my mobile didn’t make it cheap. When I did eventually get to speak to a human, apparently the Housing Department had not informed UC of the problem, therefore when speaking with UC they couldn’t update me and said that they would call back, but never did. Eventually I was told that the Housing Department had made an error and because of this my claim was late. The communication between the two services are shocking, although UC try to be as helpful as they can, but I don’t believe that the overall system works, leaving them little room to help. After 3 weeks of being on UC I found a job and with my first weekly pay I had to cover a huge phone bill which was on the back of contacting UC everyday…pretty appalling! I believe that they purposely leave us hanging on the phone (for in my worse scenario 60 minutes) to make money. I spoke to someone about this at the job centre at the time and there advice was to call them to make a compliant…I laughed!!!!

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Claire.

      Thank you for your comment.

      I’m sorry to hear you have had a bad experience with Universal Credit (UC). If you still want to make a complaint you can also do so through the DWP website here.

      Otherwise if you have to apply for UC again and are struggling whilst waiting for your first payment, you can apply for an advance payment. This is a loan – repayments are be automatically deducted from your UC payments until the advance is fully paid back. You can find out more about that here.

      If you have any other questions please post here.

  13. Have been left with no money after a missed payment meaning I have no electric or gas all weekend at -4 temps!!! All after being hung up on 3 times!!!

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Janette.

      Thank you for your comment.

      I’m sorry to hear that you had to spend the weekend like that.

      If you are on Universal Credit (UC) it could be that you have been sanctioned. This means your benefit amount is reduced or taken away completely as you haven’t done one or more of the activities in your claimant commitment. In most cases your Claimant Commitment has been drawn up during a conversation with your work coach at your local jobcentre. You can find more information on that here.

      If you are struggling you can apply for a ‘hardship payment’, which can be used to cover household expenses like food and bills. You can find more information on that here. Alternatively you may be able to apply for a ‘budgeting advance’ – you can find more on that here.

      If you have any other questions please post here.

  14. I have been unemployed since the end of January i have attended all my interviews and commitment meetings. All my documentation has been provided and i have yet to receive a single payment as i wasted £10 yesterday which i had to borrow to call the UC, regarding payment which was due yesterday. Not one person could confirm anything and i was yold to call back how can i call back with no credit no money you dont even have an option to contact UC via email.
    This service is poor to say the least given wrong numbers for the payment team being hung up on consistently not one person has had the decency to call me back or help at all.

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Keith.

      Thanks for your comment.

      I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had a bad experience with Universal Credit (UC), unfortunately many people have experienced delays receiving payments as the government implement this new system. If you want to make a complaint you can do so through the DWP website here.

      If you are struggling financially you can apply for an advance payment. This is a loan – repayments are be automatically deducted from your UC payments until the advance is fully paid back. You can find out more about that here.

      If you have any questions please post here.

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