Universal Credit FAQ

| posted in: FAQ, Universal Credit | 134 Comments

UCBelow are a number of frequently asked questions about Universal Credit. These are collated based on feedback on the calculator and other posts on the blog. If you have questions, or see something that is missing or unclear in the blog below, please post your comments at the bottom of this page.

If you are looking for the answer to a question, use ctrl+f to see if it has already been answered.


Q. What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new, means-tested benefit for people of working age on a low income.  It will replace six main benefits/tax credits: Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, and Housing Benefit, combining all of these benefits into one single household payment.


Q. Why is Universal Credit being introduced?

Universal Credit is being introduced to address some problems with the current benefit system, namely making things simpler for claimants by rolling multiple benefits into one single application and one single payment.  The DWP states that Universal Credit aims to make work pay, make it easier for people to move in and out of work, make the system easier to understand, reduce poverty, reduce fraud and error, and save taxpayer money.


Q. When will Universal Credit go into effect?

April 2013: The ‘pathfinder’ pilot launched in Ashton-under-Lyne for new, simple claims.

July 2013: Three further ‘pathfinders’ in the Greater Manchester area (Wigan, Warrington, Oldham) launched for new, simple claims.

Autumn 2013: Six further ‘pathfinders’ around the country (Hammersmith, Rugby, Inverness, Harrogate, Bath, Shotton) launch for new, simple claims.

Spring 2014: Pathfinders will begin to take on couple claims.

Autumn 2014: Pathfinders will begin to take on claims for households with children.

2016-2017: The majority of existing benefit claims will be migrated to Universal Credit.

Post-2017: Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claims will be migrated to Universal Credit.


Q. How do I claim Universal Credit?

Policy in Practice can help you estimate your Universal Credit entitlement, but we cannot help you claim Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is being slowly rolled out and is only available in 10 areas at the moment:

  • Ashton-under-Lyne
  • Wigan
  • Warrington
  • Oldham
  • Hammersmith
  • Rugby
  • Inverness
  • Harrogate
  • Bath
  • Shotton

If you live in one of the areas above, you may be able to claim Universal Credit. You can apply online here, call the Universal Credit helpline (Telephone: 0845 600 0723 or Textphone: 0845 600 0743), or visit your local Jobcentre.


Q. How will Universal Credit be paid?

For the majority of people, Universal Credit will be paid in one monthly payment to the bank account of a designated person for the whole household.  Universal Credit will be paid in arrears which means that a successful claimant will receive their first Universal Credit payment 1 month and 7 days after they’ve made their claim.

Monthly payments are intended to encourage budgeting skills and reflect the ‘world of work’ where 75% of employees receive their wages monthly, making the transition into monthly paid work easier.  In exceptional circumstances, people will be able to receive payments more frequently.  An advisor will determine whether or not to change a claimant’s frequency of payments, and their decision will be partly discretionary and partly based on a set of questions designed to determine the claimant’s level of vulnerability.

There will also be exceptions for the housing element of Universal Credit. For people in ‘exempt accommodation’ (e.g. hostels, supported housing), the housing element will continue to be administered locally and paid directly to the landlord in the short-term.  For people in non-exempt accommodation, there is also a provision that will allow the housing element to be paid directly to the landlord after the household reaches a certain debt threshold.

For people without bank accounts, Universal Credit may be paid via a Post Office Card Account (POCA) or the new ‘Simple Payment’ system which is already being used for some benefits claimants.


Q. What will happen when I move into work?

Universal Credit is designed to make the transition into work easier and for people to make sure that people are better off in work than they are on benefits.  To find out how your Universal Credit entitlement would be affected by moving into work, try our free Universal Credit calculator.


Q. I appear to be worse off under Universal Credit!

Universal Credit is unlikely to impact you until after April 2014 if you are a current benefit or tax credit claimant, and your circumstances may change in the meantime. However, other welfare changes separate to Universal Credit are happening in April 2013, (e.g. under-occupation, benefit cap, council tax changes) through which some people are set to lose out. The premium version of the Universal Credit calculator takes all of these other welfare changes into account.

Transitional protection aims to ensure that people are no worse off when Universal Credit is introduced: ‘If the amount of Universal Credit a person is entitled to is less than the amount they were getting under the old system, an additional amount will be paid to ensure that they will be no worse off in cash terms’ – DWP.


Q. I am in work, but earn less than 35 hours a week at the national minimum wage – will my eligibility for Universal Credit be affected if I don’t seek more hours?

The new system is designed to reward work, and you should not be punished for being in work under Universal Credit. Nevertheless, the in work conditionality regime means that households earning below a certain threshold will be asked if they can take reasonable steps to increase their earnings. For claimants without any caring responsibilities, fully able to seek work, this will mean earnings of at least 35 hours x the national minimum wage, or £216.65 per week.

Examples of how claimants may increase their earnings include:

  • Increasing their hours or their hourly wage with their current employer
  • Finding one or more additional jobs that they can do alongside their current job
  • Finding a new job with a higher income.

It is expected that there will be a degree of advisor discretion applied, and claimants will be able to choose an approach that works best for them. It is unlikely that the government will require anyone to leave a job in order to take up a higher paying one elsewhere as the individual is best placed to judge which job on balance (transport, childcare) is best for them. For more information, see this blog post on Universal Credit conditionality.

There is a consultation by the DWP asking for ideas on how people earning below these thresholds can be encouraged and supported to increase their earnings, if you have any ideas please contact us.


Q. Under Universal Credit, who will be entitled to mortgage support?

Home-owners / owner occupiers will only be entitled to mortgage support under Universal Credit if they are out of work (zero-earnings). There will also be a waiting period (TBD) before they can claim mortgage support. There will be a two-year limit to mortgage support under Universal Credit that will apply to households that are able to work. The government rationale behind the mortgage support regulations is that owner-occupiers should find work as soon as possible to meet their mortgage obligations.


Q. Is child maintenance taken into account for Universal Credit purposes?

Child maintenance payments will be treated as non-means tested income under Universal Credit and will not affect your Universal Credit eligibility.

Spousal maintenance payments will be treated as unearned income (Universal Credit equivalent) and lead to a pound for pound reduction in Universal Credit support.


You can see the full Universal Credit Regulations here.  Policy in Practice also offer a plain English guide to the regulations suitable for advisors, contact us to learn more.


Updated 12 December 2013

134 Responses

  1. Gary170459


    As someone who will hopefully be at the coalface in Oct 2013 when UC starts, I fervently hope that it will be as easy to understand and operate as your Calculator would suggest. I fear it will not be, as going on bitter experience the training for it (and therefore an understanding of it) will probably be a few hours if we’re lucky!

    Good luck


  2. Mrs Wheeler

    Type your comment here
    My husband is a full time student getting a bursary (£7500). I am looking after our two children, both under two years old one under one). If I work, we do not get Working tax credit. We would lose money toward housing costs (rent £575pm). 

    The calculator does not allow me to enter an ‘income’ for my husband. Currently tax office do not class it as income yet the Council do. How will it be classified? Will we still be able to claim toward childcare? Note that the ‘income’ my husband gets as bursary would be lower than minimum wage. Therefore I doubt we are better off ‘in work’. I’d say we would be much better off on benefits as our situation does not take any of this into account and we don’t get any money toward fuel/heating costs that people on benefits would get.

    • Hello,
      It is unclear how education will be treated under universal credit. Having made the choice to be in full time education, students may be expected to take on the costs of supporting themselves and pay for this through higher future earnings. The regulations are unclear and are currently being scrutinised by the SSAC, so you may yet be entitled to UC support.
      If you were eligible for Universal Credit, your husbands bursary may be treated as a Universal Credit equivalent (which would lead to a pound for pound reduction in Universal Credit support) but it is perhaps more likely it will be treated in the same way as earnings. You would keep your housing support, and have your universal credit fall away at a rate of 65p in every pound of bursary above the earning disregard level. You would keep a percentage of the additional earnings from work that you did. You will be able to claim toward childcare under Universal Credit.
      I hope this helps.

      • Mrs Wheeler

        Hi Deven,

        Thanks for your reply. Looking at entitlements, we actually get £20 less than what people on benefits would be getting (the rent is capped for LHA). NHS bursaries cover a maximum of £180pw for childcare. Extra would normally come from ‘working tax credit’ which you don’t get if you are ‘working in hospitals’ as student. The £20 deficit can not be filled with anything other than work I may get (but then I would pay more on childcare). This is because you can not get Income Support if you are a couple and you can not get JSA if you are looking after children.  

        It seems that under UC we would be no better off, that it is better to not be working than to get vocational study/work to better yourself to get a job. 

        It is useful to know that 65p of every pound can be kept but much of this will depend on the maximum that you can actually claim through childcare. If you go to work before your kids are 3years old, you do not get any discounts and so women do not benefit from going to work until after this it seems. Such a shame because I was always the breadwinner until redundancy. I hope students is an area Government looks at because due to job losses and expense of student fees, more and more people will leave study till later and thus more likely to have children. Currently a grey area. 

        • Hello again.
          You make important points. Full time education is treated differently to benefits because it is seen as a choice, an investment from which you hope to benefit from later (through higher earnings, a better job) while unemployment is seen as involuntary. I think you are arguing that perhaps this should not be the case?
          The Social Security Advisory Committee are looking at the regulations regarding full time education. I will post when these are finalised.

          • Mrs Wheeler

            Yes that is correct. The reason is because my husband is a mature student who would otherwise be unemployed if he were not studying and at very best have several temporary jobs earning minimum wage and thus relying on housing benefits for top ups (basically in same position as now). Although we would receive more money in benefits and open door to other benefits (e.g. fuel help), we have decided to not allow this to trap us. We are lucky to have good friends and family but what of those that do not have this? Better we struggle for 3 years than forever.

            The system basically says; do nothing, ‘show that you are looking for work’ and that’s all you need to do. If you try to find opportunities you are penalised. 

            Thank you, I’d be very interested to see what they have to say. Please contact me should you need any information from me.
            Best regards, Lilu 

          • Thank you. Will do. Deven.

  3. I know that tax credits, housing benefit and council tax will all become part of Universal Credit. I was wondering if you know how a student will be catergorised by UC. At the moment a student is classed as ‘not working’ by the tax office so if their partner worked, they would not be entitled to working tax credit but at the same time, their ‘income’ through bursaries or grants is not included. However, from a council tax and housing benefit point of view, this ‘income’ is included and the payments made on this basis. 
    Will this be done differently on UC?

    • Hello Lilu,
      It is currently unclear how education will be treated under universal credit. Students may be expected to take on the costs of supporting themselves and pay for this through higher future earnings (as under tax credits and JSA). However, the regulations are unclear and are currently being scrutinised by the SSAC, students may yet be entitled to UC support.
      Bursaries may be treated as a Universal Credit equivalent (which would lead to a pound for pound reduction in Universal Credit support) but it is perhaps more likely it will be treated in the same way as earnings. You would keep your housing support, and have your universal credit fall away at a rate of 65p in every pound of bursary above the earning disregard level. You would keep a percentage of the additional earnings from work that you did.
      I gave a longer response on another blog post to this if you want to take a look at that, however it is unclear until the regulations are finalised. Best, Deven.

      • I would like to know how a single parent who home educates her 13 year old will be considered within this new system. It has been stated that parents of children between 5 & 13 are expected to work within school hours. I cannot find anything that takes into account home educators. This single parent also runs a full time business wrapped around home education. I appreciate any advice, thank you.

        • Dear Jane,

          At present there is nothing in the regulations or guidance about home educators. It is expected that they will be need to meet conditionality like other parents.

          Under Universal Credit, conditionality is about earnings rather than hours. A lone parent with a child aged 13 would be expected to meet a minimum income threshold that is equivalent to working 16 hours x national minimum wage (£6.19) = £430.35 per month. Their work hours do not have to be during school time and they do not have to work 16 hours if they are earning a higher wage.

          For example, the parent could work 10 hours per week, earning £10/hr (which is £434.32 per month) and still meet this threshold. Again, these work hours do not have to be during school time.

          Additionally, it seems that the person you are asking about is self-employed. If this is the case, they will have 12 months to meet this minimum income threshold and will be given the opportunity to do so every 5 years. Your can read more about self-employment here.

          I hope that helps.

  4. Francesca Bostanli

    Well – it appears that my income from benefits will remain the same as it is now which is a relief because I could ill-afford to lose any of it.

    Just a thought … whilst I appreciate that the government has to make changes to the welfare system to simplify it, encourage people with kids to work and save money, I find the introduction of the bedroom tax absolutely disgusting for two reasons:  a) I believe that every social tenant should be allowed to live in a house with ONE spare bedroom and not be penalised – all people (rich and poor) have commitment to family and grown up children may sometimes need to come home and grandchildren may also need support (especially in the uncertain/jobless economic times that we find ourselves in).  b)  Whilst I believe that people should be charged for a second spare room (this is perfectly fair and reasonable) why oh why are pensioners (yet again) let off the hook?  In our town there are hordes of single pensioners under-occupying 3-bed properties – this is an absolute joke – firstly, their bills are unaffordable, maintainence of the home becomes an issue and there are many local families financially suffering in private-rented accommodation.  Secondly, older people should be encouraged to move to more suitable accommodation before it is too late for them to do so – the whole policy is ludicrous.

    Okay – I’ve said my piece.  Many thanks. 

    • Hi Francesca,
      Thanks for your comment, really interesting points.
      What would you say to people living in flats that are too small for them, needing another bedroom for their large family, but unable to find one? Young families that are struggling in work often complain about this situation. The best solution would be to build more homes to tackle high housing costs. This takes time, but it takes time for people affected by the under-occupation charge to find a smaller property too. A lot will depend on how this is implemented.
      A very good point about pensioners. I have been making a similar point about council tax support.
      Good to hear from you, do feel free to respond if you want to continue the discussion.

      • Francesca Bostanli

        Thanks Deven – I was one of those people who was squeezed into a property that was too small and I was lucky enough to qualify for social housing and it has worked out very well for me.

        The families I mention that are struggling in private rents are sometimes also the ones that are over occupying because they want to save money.

        Let’s face it – this whole problem could have been avoided if the lovely Mrs. Thatcher had made sure that councils put the money back into new housing when they had it rolling in on the ‘right to buy’ scheme – we are really paying the price for that now!

        I think we are going to see rising levels of homelessness for families simply because the appropriate accommodation won’t be available for those that want to downsize and also some people will find it too costly to move to a smaller place – new flooring, curtains, the cost of removal etc – a lot of people simply don’t have adequate income to finance this and I’m sure it will get worse what with George Frogspawns continuing assault on the poor – but let’s not forget – we are all a bunch of losers who lie in bed with the curtains shut – drinking, fornicating, shooting up smack, raising our kids the wrong way, buying massive flatscreens, being anti-social and not being able to string a sentence together!!

        Many people in my community work hard but for low wages which, let’s face it, only service profiteering management who aren’t interested in paying everyone a living wage (which would negate the need for high levels of benefit).

        What to do?

        I’ve come down from my soap box but these are the things that really rattle my cage. 

        • theresa maung

          i think the whole housing system is due to bad allocation. there is estimated 6 million under occupied social homes and 1.8 million families living in over crowded home, and as for building new homes , there needs to be affordable homes built as you can build them but if no one can afford them theres just no point.

  5. i’m in the Support Group of ESA and according to the calculator i will be better off on Universal Credit!

    i know it’s quite a while until UC takes over, but i wondered how often it will be paid?
    my benefits have always been paid fortnightly. i wouldn’t mind if i was paid weekly, but monthly would make my life difficult.

    • Hi Julie, 
      Universal Credit will be paid monthly except in exceptional circumstances. Can you describe how this would make your life difficult?  
      I look forward to hearing from you.

  6. I blog often and I seriously thank you for your content.
    This article has truly peaked my interest. I will book mark your site and keep checking for new details about once per
    week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.

    • Many thanks for your feedback. You can post your own articles by clicking on the post link at the top of the page. Deven.

  7. karen Dominique

    how will you get housing benefit if one is a pensioner and one is not

    • Dear Karen,

      In the future, pension credit will include a housing element (called housing credit- equivalent to housing benefit).

      If when Universal Credit is introduced in your area, both of you are above pensionable age you will not be affected. In addition, if one of you is claiming pension credit at this time, you will continue to receive Pension Credit, which will include a housing element.

      If a pensioner is not receiving Pension Credit when Universal Credit comes into effect, the pensioner will no longer be able to claim Pension Credit. They will be treated as a working age household. This means that the younger partner will have to claim Universal Credit for the household instead which will include the housing element.

      For households that are of working age when UC is introduced, when one partner reached pension age the household will continue to receive Universal Credit, which will include a housing element.

      Note that the base element of Universal Credit is likely to be less than Pension Credit. So, if a household is entitled to claim pension credit before Universal Credit is introduced, they may be better off making a Pension Credit claim so that they can continue to receive this in the future.

  8. What will happen to low-income workers who are sensibly making provision for their retirement in the form of additional voluntary contributions to a pension plan under Universal Credit?

    Under Working Tax Credit, you must work 30 hours a week, but you are then free to decide how much you wish to contribute to a pension plan without facing the loss or sanction of your WTC. Contributions are deducted from gross income in calculating eligibility for WTC; i.e. your income is considered to have fallen by as much as the pension contribution amount, and your eligibility for WTC increases appropriately.

    However, from what I can tell, under Universal Credit, a person working 30 hours a week as a checkout operator at Tesco or Sainsburys – and who is part of their workplace pension plan but wishes to make a monthly contribution of £100 gross to a stakeholder pension plan on top, would find themselves under threat of sanction under the ‘in-work conditionality’ clause of Universal Credit for ‘not earning enough’.

    They might be struggling to find better-paid work for a variety of legitimate reasons, and because of family commitments, for health reasons, or for lack of overtime availability, be unable to work over 35 hours a week, to compensate for this.

    So the only way out of this would be for them to stop pension contributions, and jeopardise their retirement plans.

    Universal Credit would therefore have the effect of penalising low-income workers who are thinking of their future and planning for their retirement. It will pressurise people into reducing pension contributions, and leave low-income workers facing poverty in old age.

    By contrast, higher-income workers would be free to contribute generously to their pension plans, and they would not only benefit from increased UC payments but they would not be subject to UC sanctions or ‘in-work conditionality’ pressure, and indeed might even find themselves receiving UC for the first time, if their pension payments take them below the ‘maximum’ salary earnable under UC.

    UC shouldn’t unfairly penalise low-income workers in this way. 35 hours should be considered enough for anyone, and nobody working 35 hours should be badgered to work more.

    • deven.ghelani

      Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your comment. I think there are some details in the regulations that will reassure you.
      – In work conditionality under Universal Credit will be calculated on the basis of gross income, with a fit and able adult without caring responsibilities expected to earn 35 hours x National minimum wage. (see my post on in-work conditionality, based on the DWP briefing notes).
      – Universal Credit is withdrawn on the basis of net income, i.e. gross income less income tax, national insurance contributions and pension contributions (according the latest version of the Universal Credit regulations). It should not in this case discourage pension contributions.
      I hope this helps. Thanks again.

  9. Jean Pitt

    I really dont understand the information given for universal credit. The information given shows that once universal credit starts it will cover my rent but not my council tax as it does presently o job seekers allowance. So if i have to pay that out of my own benefits it will leave about £53 a week to live on, thats gas, electric, phone, water, foods, travel and any other bills etc. And im paying off a socila fund loan i had about 2 years ago at £6.69 per week. they wont lower the payments ive asked. How am i going to live? If i ever do get offered a job how am i going to manage to get to work each day until i start getting the monthly salary? I think they give you a £100 back to work grant but that wont carry me for several weeks till i start getting my pay, of course i wont be able to travel to work in the first place. Its just a whole mess.

    • deven.ghelani

      Dear Jean,
      Thanks for your comment – the number of changes to welfare is making it difficult to understand exactly how the changes will affect you. However, the government hopes that they will make work more worthwhile. Council tax support sits outside of Universal Credit. You may get less council tax support than you used to, but you are unlikely to have to pay the full amount. Your local authority will have more information on these changes.
      I hope this helps. Deven.

  10. why has universal credit not been applied to inner london?
    when will it be applied?

    • Dear Leonie,

      Universal Credit is being rolled out slowly, starting with pilots in the Greater Manchester area, to make sure that everything is working as it should. It will start to affect new claimants in other parts of the country from October 2013. From April 2014, people with a significant change of circumstances (for example, a new job, or moving home) will begin to be transferred over to Universal Credit. Then from April 2014, current claimants will slowly be moved over to Universal Credit. All claims should be on the Universal Credit system by 2017.

  11. selina saville

    looks like I will be better off on new system, can you opt in to change over now?

    • Dear Selina,

      It is great to hear that the new system will benefit you. Existing claims will only begin being transferred over to Universal Credit in April 2014, so it may be a while before you can transfer over to the new system. Unfortunately, you cannot opt into the system sooner.

  12. When you apply online for Universal Credit do you know how you will provide prove of your rent and tenancy and also how you will provide prove of any future increases should your landlord increase your rent in line with inflation?

    • Dear Brian,

      As with the current system, you will need to provide evidence of your rent and tenancy, as well as advise of any rent increases. Currently you would do this by handing in these documents to Housing Options at your Local Authority. Under Universal Credit, you will need to provide these documents to the DWP. This will most likely be by mailing them in or taking them to your local Job Centre branch. However, the exact process is being determined as part of the pathfinder.

  13. How will this new system work for farmers who work over 50 hours a week and still make losses at the end of the year? We can’t predict weather or illness / disease that effects livestock / crops on a month to month basis. Should all farmers claiming credits choose a different career and the country lose it’s agricultural heritage?

    • Dear Sam,

      If you are self-employed and are concerned about the Minimum Income Threshold, this post on Universal Credit for the self-employed could be helpful to you. You will have a year to meet the Minimum Income Threshold and will be given this opportunity every five years. If you have a bad year outside of these times, you will get less support under Universal Credit. Unfortunately, this is a risk of your business. Do you think that the government should cover the business risks for farmers? Is it possible that you could be eligible for a subsidy?

  14. how many hours work can one do b4 it effect ,ones universal credit…. or how much can one earn b4 it effect ones universal credit…….i am a single person and i understand i will get £350 a week universal credit…… thanks

    • Dear Sheila,

      Under Universal Credit, it is not a set number of hours worked that will affect your benefits, it is the amount you earn. This is called an ‘earnings disregard’ or ‘work allowance’ – the amount you can earn without your benefits being affected. You can use the Universal Credit calculator to find this out for your circumstances. It is detailed in Step Two, labelled ‘Work Allowance’.

      Also note that £350/week is the benefit cap set for single people. This is the maximum amount that you can receive. Depending on your circumstances, what you will actually receive may be different. You can use the calculator to get an estimate of how much Universal Credit you will be entitled to.

  15. Hi have 2 children aged 5 & 9 I am currently separating from my husband ,& will have a lump sum of£50,000 . I will be starting work for 20hrs in sept and would like to get a mortgage. With wtc and ct credits taken into account I would have a chance of getting a small mortgage (about 45000) also I need to work for 6 months to apply for one. However with UC I won’t be entitled to the equivilant of the current tax credits because I have a lump sum and therefore I would be unable to get a mortgage on my wage & CB alone so Would I have to rent until I only had 16000? How come if I already had a mortgage I would then get more money? Is there some sort of waiting period where I be able to get the extra help whilst I try to apply for a mortgage?

    • Dear Sue,

      People with savings of over £16,000 will not be eligible for Universal Credit. However, there is a six-month grace period for people who come into money suddenly (redundancy, bequeathed). Policy and Practice has argued that the savings limit should be higher which you can read more about here.

      Universal Credit will only begin to affect existing claimants in April 2014 and it is expected that it will only be rolled out fully by 2017. So, it is likely that it may be some time before you will need to claim Universal Credit.

      Under Universal Credit you would only be eligible for mortgage support payments if you are out of work, and since you will be working, you would not be eligible. There will also be a waiting period for mortgage support payments (still undecided) and you can only receive this for a maximum of two years.

  16. Hi, i would like to know how this will work to a lone parent with a disabled child benefits are paid in arrears so does this mean we have to wait a month before we get paid?

    • Dear Gail,

      Universal Credit is paid one month in arrears. The DWP says that typically new claimants will receive their first payment 1 month and 7 days after making a claim.

      For claimants who are going to be transferred on to Universal Credit from an existing claim, there will be cash protection to ensure that there are no gaps in your claim and that you are not worse off under Universal Credit.

  17. has anything been finalised on the attribution of student loans / grants / bursaries to UC yet? – previously in December you said it had not been finalised yet.
    I am led to believe that under the current system the loans and grants are not counted as income, but the bursaries are.
    I am confused at how can a loan be counted as income, as it is not strictly speaking your income as it has to be paid back – regardless of the source of the loan.

    • Dear MCB,

      Under Universal Credit, students undertaking a full-time course of advanced education or undertaking any other full-time course of study or training through a student loan, grant, or bursary are not entitled to claim Universal Credit. However, there are exceptions that mean full time students in advanced and non advanced education can still be able to qualify for Universal Credit if the student:

      • is a member of a couple where the other eligible adult is entitled to Universal Credit
      • has dependent children or foster children (whether as a lone parent or member of a couple where both are students);
      • is disabled, entitled to disability living allowance or personal independence payment and satisfies the work capability assessment;
      • is over the qualifying age for pension credit (in couple cases where one is over and one under that age); and
      • for non-advanced education only, they are up to age 21 and without parental support.

      If a student both qualifies for Universal Credit and is receiving ‘student income’ (loan, grant, or bursary), the student income will be treated as unearned income which will reduce the Universal Credit award on a pound for pound basis.

      Student loan repayments are not taken into account when calculating your Universal Credit award.

  18. I found the link below on how universal credit is going to affect the self employed / small business owner. What really worries me is that the monthly accounting will not take into account irregular earnings and losses. For example one month i have a large outgoing but no sales, my income will not reach the minimum floor threshold, so i will not be entitled to any universal credit that month. i still have the rent to pay etc…The next month i have a large sale but no outgoings. My earnings are as a result well above the threshold that month so again i receive less support.

    It is a known fact that businesses have fluctuating income that usually balances out throughout the year. The present system of reporting yearly takes this into account.

    Small businesses or anyone self employed with an irregular income is going to be forced to either not claim universal credit support or be forced into alternative work which if they cannot find will then be forced on to a workfare scheme with no pay. this will create the situation where employers will be using them as free labour. Farmers will not be able to survive, but maybe the government is not concerned with the uk supporting itself & producing its own food? Importing food will be their answer!

    Also has any provision been made for parents that home educate their children? I cannot find any answers to this? It is stated in the Universal Credit info that parents of children between 5 & 13 are expected to work within school hours. Over 13 expected work hours are 35 per week. What about single parents who are coordinating home education around their self employed hours. I know of one lady who is home educating her 13 year old, is a single parent plus also runs her own business and has a fluctuating income – how is she going to survive?


    • Dear Jane,

      You have a valid concern about irregular earnings. The regulations indicate that Universal Credit will be calculated on a cash-accounting monthly basis.

      However, you have twelve months to establish a level of regular earnings equal to or above the minimum income floor. During this period, if your earnings fall to zero in any assessment period, you will receive the maximum UC award for that period.

      After twelve months, if your earnings fall to zero you will continue to receive UC, but at a lower amount, as if you had earned the minimum income floor amount (hours worked * NMW).

      You can read more about self-employment under Universal Credit here.

      At present there is nothing in the regulations or guidance about home educators. It is expected that they will be need to meet conditionality like other parents. However, if your friend has sufficient earnings running her own business then she will avoid conditionality.

      Under Universal Credit, conditionality is about earnings rather than hours. A lone parent with a child aged 13 would be expected to meet a minimum income threshold that is equivalent to working 16 hours x national minimum wage (£6.19) = £430.35 per month. Their work hours do not have to be during school time and they do not have to work 16 hours if they are earning a higher wage.

      • Hello, thankyou for your reply. What if the child is over 13 years what will the minimum threshold expectations per week / month be? thank you

  19. do childen have a savings limit under uc

    • Dear Michelle,

      Thanks for your comment. You raise a very good question.

      According to the DWP’s Advice for Decision Making, a child’s savings and capital will not be taken into account when calculating the household’s Universal Credit award. This means that there would be no limit.

      However, this is only if the advisor is satisfied that the savings actually belong to the child. Advisors may investigate if it appears that the savings actually belong to the claimant.

  20. A lot of people are getting worried about the change to Universal Credit (UC). I think it should be stressed that no-one transferred over from existing benefits will lose out in cash terms, due to “transitional protection”, i.e. a cash top-up if their UC entitlement is less than under the current system, so that there is no overall reduction from the previous amount, while their circumstances remain the same.

    This top-up will apply until a claimant’s circumstances change significantly in a way specified by the regulations, e.g. stopping work, having a sustained (3 months) fall in earnings to below that required by the Claimant Commitment, partner joining/leaving the household. At that point the UC entitlement will be calculated with no reference to the old, pre-UC benefit amounts, and no transitional protection will apply.

    The cash top-up would be eroded over time by the annual uprating in UC, e.g. a £2 increase due to uprating would be clawed back by a £2 reduction in transitional protection. The same is true of an increase in UC due to a small fall in earnings: the transitional protection would be used up pound-for-pound by any such increase in UC.

    To preserve work incentives, if earnings increase, the transitional protection will remain, until earnings grow so much that the claimant is no longer entitled to UC. Even then, it will be tapered away gradually.

    That is my understanding from reading online but feel free to correct me if I have any of that wrong.

    • Dear Neil,

      Thank you for your comments. You have given a good, concise explanation of transitional protection under Universal Credit that will surely help others in the future.

      I’d just like to add a few points. Firstly, transitional protection will only apply to existing claimants, but not new claimants even in cases where they would have received more under the current system than Universal Credit.

      Secondly, eligibility for transitional protection will depend on why someone’s claim has been moved to Universal Credit. If claimants are migrated onto UC automatically with no change of circumstances, then they will receive transitional protection. However, if they are moved onto UC because of a change of circumstances, they will not be eligible for transitional protection.

      Lastly, for self-employed people, transitional protection will not cover the effects of the Minimum Income Floor (which will assume that self-employed people are earning the national minimum wage x reported hours, even if they are earning less). Their transitional protection will be calculated prior to the Minimum Income Floor (using their actual wage).

      For those interested in finding out more, you can read the DWP’s Universal Credit Policy Breifing Note on transitional protection here.

  21. Hi,

    I have two children, aged 3 and 5 and work 30 hours a week. I am a single parent and I have a mortgage. I get no maintenance and I can only afford to live with the assistance of child tax credits. I don’t understand how or if the change will affect me?


    • Dear Kris,

      When the new system (Universal Credit) comes in it will replace a number of existing benefits (Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit).

      You can use the free version of our Universal Credit Calculator to estimate what you will be entitled to under Universal Credit. You will just need to enter your household circumstances (e.g. number of children, rent, etc.)

      From the information you’ve given in your comment, here is how Universal Credit will affect you:

      • Instead of Child Tax Credit, you will receive the “child element” of Universal Credit. This isn’t likely to affect the amount you receive each month. If you’d like to find out more, have a look at the HMRC website on Tax Credits.
      • You have not stated that you receive Working Tax Credit, but as a lone parent working over 16 hours, you should be eligible (so it might be worth applying for this if you don’t receive it). Under Universal Credit, you would instead receive in-work support through Universal Credit.
      • Your benefits will be paid monthly in one lump sum.
      • You will only be entitled to help with your mortgage interest payments when out of work.
      • Child Benefit is not being replaced so if you are receiving this at the moment then it shouldn’t be affected.

      It’s also worth being aware that UC is being rolled out gradually over the next few years across the UK. Current benefit claims are expected to be migrated to Universal Credit in 2016.

      I hope this helps.

  22. joannahurley

    Hello, loss of Child Tax credit will reduce my income significantly. My Financial Court Order following my divorce was based on the fact that I received Child Tax Credits and the amount of spousal maintenance I received was based on this. If I lose this benefit I will have a significant income shortfall. Will the transitional period cover people in my situation? I also have savings above £16k

    • Dear Joanna,

      The roll out of Universal Credit has been delayed, so current benefit claimants are now only expected to be migrated on to Universal Credit in 2016-17.

      Unfortunately we don’t think that you will be eligible for transitional protection. Transitional protection applies to people who are migrated onto Universal Credit from existing benefits and will be paid as an addition to the Universal Credit award.

      Since you have over £16,000 in savings, you would not be eligible for Universal Credit, and would therefore not be ‘migrated’ onto UC or receive a UC award which the transitional protection could be added on to.

      You may be able to have your maintenance reassessed to take into account your decreased income once you are no longer able to claim Child Tax Credits.

  23. Hi, I am worried because I had to leave my job due to ill health and at the time due to a legacy got a mortgage on a property which I now let. There is over £ 16,000 equity in it. Though I use this as a business. Though owned in my husband and my name. (I have a family and husband who is on ESA = support group as he is very ill). there has been no profits from the rental as yet. Would the equity be classed as our capital even though it is a business?

    • Dear Rustie,

      Your property will be classed as capital even though it is run as a business. Since there is over £16,000 of equity, this would mean that you would be ineligible for Universal Credit. However you may still be entitled to contributory benefits.

      According to the Universal Credit regulations (Schedule 10), premises which are not classified as capital are:
      • Occupied by you as your home
      • Occupied by a close relative who has a limited capability for work or is of state pension age
      • Occupied by a former partner
      • Newly acquired, but you are taking action to move in within 6 months
      • Premises which you left due to an estrangement from a partner
      • Premises which you are trying to dispose of, and have taken reasonable steps to do this in the last 6 months

  24. Hi

    I am a single parent of two children aged 9 and 12. I work 18 hours a week during term time. I am in the process of getting divorced, and am currently receiving interim maintenance which covers both child and spousal maintenance, although it’s not officially divided between the two. I get both working and child tax credits. The divorce settlement is being negotiated on the basis that I will continue to receive these benefits.

    When my divorce is finalised I will be getting separate spousal and child maintenance, probably about equal to what I get now. I understand that under UTC the spousal maintenance will be classed as unearned income, and would therefore reduce the amount of benefit I qualify for, even though my actual income will remain the same.

    If the divorce is sorted soon, my maintenance payments are fixed, and I am still receiving WTC & CTC before I transition on to UTC, will I qualify for transitional protection? Or will the fact that I will be receiving spousal maintenance mean that my payments will drop when I transition? If this is the case I will need to agree a higher spousal maintenance now to cover the loss in benefits income.

    Is there a timetable for transition of existing claimants?

    Thanks in advance

    • Dear Sarah,

      If you are currently receiving tax credits and your circumstances remain the same, you should be entitled to transitional protection that will make up the difference between what you receive now and what you will be entitled to under Universal Credit. This will last as long as you do not have a change of circumstances. For more information, you can read the DWP’s briefing note on transitional protection.

      Existing claims are only expected to be migrated onto Universal Credit in 2016.

  25. At the moment if I didn’t satisfy all the expectations in regards to my job seekers allowance contract I could be sanctioned. However I would still be entitled to Housing Benefit based on a zero income. What will happen to my help with the help I receive for my rent if I am sanctioned for not seeking work?

    • Daniel Cavanillas

      Hello Sean, many thanks for your question.

      The move to Universal Credit has raised many questions among benefit claimants, including about the impact of sanctions.

      It is unlikely that your housing element will be affected by any sanctions. According to the regulations, sanctions will only be applied to the standard allowance of Universal Credit – the one that is meant to cover your day-to-day costs. This implies that the housing costs element of Universal Credit will not be affected by these sanctions.

      Thanks again for your question, and don’t hesitate to get back to us if you have any more doubts!


  26. What provisions are being made for possible failure to computer systems in regards to people receiving their Universal Credit?

    • Daniel Cavanillas

      That’s a great question, Sean, and one that touches on one of the most discussed areas of Universal Credit: its reliance on computer systems.

      The explanatory memorandum explains what would happen if the official computer system is inoperative when a person applies for Universal Credit. In that case, the time claimants have to apply would be extended by up to one month, in order to allow them to send their application.

      We have not been able to find guidance regarding other potential computer systems failures, but Universal Credit currently has a number of manual crosschecks in place that should help minimise any risks.


  27. Hi

    I have two disabled kids who get medium and higher dla rates, and get child tax credit disability premiums. My husband is self employed but doesn’t earn a lot. Will the disabled child and child elements of uc be taken off us, or is it just the working tax element for adults? We don’t claim housing or council tax benefit

    • Hi Maddalene,

      Thank you for your question.

      DLA is a non-means tested benefit. This means it is available to everyone, no matter what their income is, so you will continue to receive DLA for your children under Universal Credit.
      The child element of Universal Credit is equivalent to Child Tax Credit and will remain at £2,750 per child and £545 per family per year (as of April 2014) as a starting point for people that are unemployed.
      The disabled child element under Universal Credit is equivalent to the child disability element of Child Tax Credit. The higher rate for severely disabled children will stay the same under Universal Credit at currently £362.92 per month, however the middle rate will be reduced from £258.33 to £124.86 per month.

      Universal Credit will combine Job Seeker’s Allowance / Employment and Support Allowance / Income Support, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credits into one single benefit that will be withdrawn at a constant rate. Currently different benefits are withdrawn at different rates. Without knowing your income details I can therefore unfortunately not tell you what amount of the disabled child element you will receive, but I would advise you to enter your information in our Universal Benefit Calculator to find out more.

  28. james ramage

    Hi there. Your calculator is really helpful, thank you, but in calculating UC for single people in the former ESA Support group category is there really an extra disability premium of £71 per week as you indicate?? – current ESA support group premium is about £35 – is IDS really going to double it ! If so I have misjudged the man’s motiovations.

    • Hi James,

      Thank you for your feedback!

      You are generally correct; the basic employment support component for ESA support group will increase from £35.75 to £71.77 per week. However under the current system beneficiaries receive additional weekly premiums of £15.55 for enhanced disability and £61.10 for severe disability which will no longer be paid under Universal Credit to simplify the system. Depending on the level of disability some people will be worse off and some will be better off under Universal Credit.

      Overall, the budget for ESA will stay the same under Universal Credit, but is being redistributed amongst recipients and the system is being simplified.

  29. Hi I work full time and have a disability not recognized by any benefit support but by doctors and consultants(and everyone who knows me), and my wife home educates our children, I understand that with children over five both parents are expected to be working full time hours to receive support is this correct, also am I excluded from any support for my disability under universal credit

    • Hi Mark,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Under Universal Credit couples with children will have to nominate one parent as the lead carer, the other parent is expected to look for full time work. If your children are between the age of five and 12 the lead carer is expected to look for part time work in line with caring responsibilities. Home educating is not considered part of the necessary care work, so your wife would be expected to do this in addition to part time work, or find alternative schooling options for your children.

      However, under Universal Credit the earnings rather than the hours are what matters, so combined you might be expected to earn (35 + 16) * £6.5 = £331.5 per week. It doesn’t matter how these earnings are split between you and your partner. It might be helpful to know that you can claim back 70% of childcare cost under Universal Credit. Parents of children over the age of 13 are usually expected to look for full time work.

      Whether you will receive support for your disability will depend on the results of a Work Capability Assessment.

  30. Hi I’m in receipt of the standard daily living rate of Personal independance payment and not entitled to other benefits,my partner works 39 hrs a week his hourly wage is £7.74 ,we rent privately which is £375 a month ,We live in the North West (Pendle area of Lancashire) what Universal Credit will we get ? and why can we not claim UC yet? even though it was introduced in my area Oct/Nov 2014. Thanks Bev

    • Hi Bev,

      Thank you for your comment.

      The Universal Credit Calculator is a self-service tool that can calculate your Universal Credit entitlements, I would encourage you to enter your details there. Please be aware that you will need to enter additional information like the amount of bedrooms in your house, and your council tax band.

      Universal Credit is being rolled-out for single claimants initially and will step by step include couples, and families. Do you currently receive ESA as well as PIP? If so, people with disabilities will be amongst the last to be included, so it will be a while before you can claim Universal Credit.

  31. I’ve apply for universal credit while I am waiting 5 weeks for payment im going to be 5 weeks behind with my rent

    • Daniel Cavanillas


      There are procedures in place to help new claimants in the transition towards Universal Credit.

      You may apply for a Universal Credit new claim advance as long as you fulfil certain requirements. You will have to prove that your earnings are low enough, and convince Jobcentre Plus that you will be able to pay back the advance.

      If your application is accepted, you will receive a budgeting advance to help you budget until your next payment. This amount is likely to be less than half of your actual Universal Credit entitlement, and you will be expected to pay it back during the following months. Repayments will normally be made in the form of deductions to your Universal Credit payments.

      I hope this information helps you.


  32. How many hours will 60 year olds be expected to work @ NMW to reach the income floor? At the moment they have to work only 16 hours to be eligible for working tax credits.

    • Hi Sue,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Under Universal Credit there is no requirement for a minimum of hours worked, but rather a minimum income. There is no legislation (yet) specifying requirements for people over the age of 60 years as exists for the current system, and they are currently not listed as being exempt or having reduced requirements. If this remains the case you would be expected to earn £6.5 * 35h= £227.5 per week.

      The DWP can agree to reduce this if you carry out voluntary work (maximum of 50% of time), carry out work preparation requirement or deal with any temporary circumstances, e.g. domestic emergency or funeral arrangements.

  33. How will home educators be affected by this? My husband works and I remain at home with our children aged 6 years, 3 years and 8 months. They either are, or will be, home educated, thus preventing me from working and meeting these ‘requirements’.

    How will we be affected? Will I be forced into work even though we have already made financial sacrifices in order for one of us to be at home full-time?

    • Hi,

      Thank you for your comment.

      As long as your youngest child is under the age of one, you are not required to work. However when your youngest child is between the age of one and two you will be asked to attend interviews to discuss plans for a future move into work, and after that you will be expected to take active steps to prepare for work. Once your youngest child is 5 years old you will be expected to look for part time work in line with caring responsibilities. Home educating is not considered part of the necessary care work, so you would be expected to do this in addition to work preparation or part time work, or find alternative schooling options for your children. Parents of children over the age of 13 are usually expected to look for full time work.

      You can find this information and more in this document which provides an overview of Universal Credit and families.

      Please be aware that under Universal Credit there is a requirement on earnings rather than hours worked, so currently you and your husband would be expected to earn 35h *£6.50 = £227.5 per week. Once your youngest child is 5 years old, we expect that this would be (35 + 16) * £6.50 = £331.5 per week (at the current National Minimum Wage level). It doesn’t matter how these earnings are split between you.

      It might be helpful to know that you can claim back 70% of the cost of childcare under Universal Credit.

      • Claiming back even 100% of childcare costs wouldn’t change the situation! My children are HOME EDUCATED! We are actively choosing for them to NOT be in school/childcare.

        How can I be expected to work AND provide adequate care for my children and fulfill their educational requirements?

        It is our LEGAL RIGHT to educate our children how we choose, so why should I put my children in a conventional educational system that is underfunded, overtested, and oversubscribed?

  34. Mike Patterson

    I am currently on Universal Credit and looking for work. I was on a work experience placement arranged by my local Universal Credit office on Friday last week when I fell ill with a seizure and had to spend time in hospital. I was discharged later that same day. I am due to contact the Universal Credit line later today to explain my situation but wondered before I make the call how my claim might be affected as I cannot find much information relating to what happened to me on the Universal Credit website.

    • Hi Mike,

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

      The information I found on sanctions usually says that they will only be imposed if someone does not have a good reason for failing to meet a requirement. However I hope an emergency hospitalisation would count as such.
      At this point I assume you will have made the call already, so it would be interesting to hear how it went. I hope you managed to sort it out and are recovering from your seizure!

  35. Hi i became unemployed in feb for the first time , im now getting this new universal credit, i couldnt find work in my own hometown so went to london to seek work, i had a problem with my log in (sigh on) day or whatever they call it, telling me i had to have a permanent address (which i dont have) as im only here on a trial period to see if i can find work could i use a PO Box for all my mail ….any info would be greatful thanks in advance

    • Hi Angie,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Unfortunately a PO Box is not an option for claiming Universal Credit, neither is a temporary address. This means that you will either need to keep a permanent address in your previous home town and travel back and forth for appointments, or take the step and find a permanent home in London.

      You would need one of the following documents to confirm your new address (or any subsequent address): your tenancy agreement or mortgage statement, your driving licence, a recent bank statement or credit card bill, a recent utility bill or your entry in the electoral register. More information can be found here.

      Either way, I hope you find a job soon!

  36. Hi
    I’m on Income Based JSA at the moment. I’ve been told I’ll be moved over to UC soon, yet according to the Universal Credit website I’m ineligible to claim due to having been abroad for more than four weeks in the last two years. Will can I do about this? Thanks.

    • Hi Gav,

      Thank you for your comment.

      You are right, Universal Credit is currently only available to people who have lived in the UK for the last two years, and not have been abroad for more than four weeks continuously during that time. As Universal Credit will be rolled out more and more claimants with different circumstances will be included. If you have made your advisors at the Jobcenter aware of your situation they will inform you when you will be moved to Universal Credit, until then you will continue to receive JSA.

  37. Hi i have two children aged 6 and 5 i have moved back in with parents as was advised going on universal credit. I do not get anything of the childrens father he does not see them at all. I am working 18 to 24 hours a week. Was advised i was speaking to a gentleman secuirty in the job centre saying i can claim tax credits working but universal credit said its all in one to be honest i am worse off i live in the northwest liverpool. I have been discussing payments with other mums and there on well more money than me with one child and i have two i am confussed i get 817 something along them lines a month and when i put in on the universal credit caculator it says 917 can you please explain to me as i feel like idont get anywere when calling universal credit plus on phone for 40mins sometimes when i get through. I would be hsppy if ucould tell me whats what and if i am entitled to anything else.

    Many thanks xx

    • Daniel Cavanillas

      Hi Rebecca;

      Thank you for sharing your experience;

      As you rightly mention, Universal Credit is replacing tax credits, so if you are receiving Universal Credit you will no longer be able to claim Working Tax Credit. There is an in-work element in Universal Credit which people can receive even if they are working, but how much support you receive if you work 18 to 24 hours per week will depend on your circumstances.

      Unfortunately I can’t comment on your exact calculations. I would recommend talking to an advisor at your local authority, or perhaps at a CAB, where they will be better able to help you understand your situation.


      Policy in Practice

  38. Hi

    I was wondering if there is any protection for people who have been working and managing to pay their rent, but become unemployed and face a restriction in the amount of housing costs they receive because of the local housing allowance rates.

    I understand there is similar protection under housing benefit but not sure if this will exist under Universal Credit? I can’t find any information.


    • Daniel Cavanillas

      Hi Ricki;

      Thanks for your question. As you correctly mention, under the current benefits system you would be protected for 13 weeks in this case. However, under Universal Credit, this protection will no longer exist – your housing support will be reduced immediately if the rent is above the local housing allowance rate, regardless of your previous circumstances.

      This is outlined on Page 13 of the Housing Element of Universal Credit report, which is linked here: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06547


      Policy in Practice

  39. Hi – I read there is a £16k capital limit for claiming UC. Can you tell me what constitutes capital under UC for a self employed sole trader? I read somewhere that money in the sole trader’s business account wouldn’t count – but then I have since read contrary to that. Also what about stock? Thanks.

    • Leonardo Kellaway

      Hi Jason,

      Firstly, stocks and shares are considered as capital under UC.

      Secondly, looking at the legislation on one person businesses, any assets of the company that are used wholly and exclusively for the purpose of the trade are to be disregarded from the person’s capital. This includes cash, the income and savings of the company is to be treated as the person’s income and savings.

      In your scenario, unless what was in your sole trader’s business account was used to pay off capital that was “wholly and exclusively for the purpose of trade” it would count as personal capital. However, this is also open to interpretation.

      Hope this helps.


  40. Hello, I’m wondering if anyone can offer me some advice please? I lost my job one week ago, I made a claim for benefits for the first time and was told the benefit I needed to apply for was universal credit. I am currently receiving a 4 week run on of working tax and child credits which will end in the 25 th March. I understand there is an assessment period of 4 weeks. Will this assessment period start after my tax credit run on has finished, meaning I won’t have any payments until the end of April/ early May or will my assessment start as soon as I’ve had an interview at the job centre? It’s so confusing, I don’t have a wage to come at the end of this month and don’t have any savings etc. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    • Joel Reland

      Hi Lyndsey,

      Your assessment period begins one week after you have made your claim at the Jobcentre, and your first payment will be made one month after the beginning of that claim.

      You can also ask for a Universal Credit claim advance payment if you can prove that your earnings are low enough. This amount is likely to be less than half of a full payment under Universal Credit, and is to help you budget until your next payment is sent out. However, you do have to pay back this sum, and convince the Jobcentre that you will be able to do so; so your lack of savings might be an issue.

      I hope that this helps in some way.



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  42. Luke Trott

    Hey, me and my partner have just started on this new universal credit system which ive already seen some problems. I may be jobless but I aint stupid not to notice the reduction of couple benifits. On jobseeker we would get paid £115.80 a week. Which if your good enough to know your maths properly works out to be roughly 503 a month. But on universal credit we are on 395.20 a month which is about £108, which you reverse the calculation work out to £90 quid a week. Out of order! Secondly I would like to ask if anyone thought about those 5 week months ? Your still getting paid the months money in my case 395.20 ?? Whats going on there. The use of universal credit is putting this country into poverty rather quickly.

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Luke,

      Thanks for your message.

      Your entitlement under Universal Credit (UC) may well be lower than under the current system. We’d advise you to use our free Universal Credit Calculator here, which will show you exactly what you are entitled to. A criticism of UC is that the move to a monthly payment system may cause budgeting issues for some people. You may be able to apply for a ‘budgeting advance’ if you are struggling – you can find more information on that here.

      If there is any more we can do to help, please post here.

  43. Hi, I was wondering if you could confirm something for me. I am currently in the Support Group ESA with my husband on my claim. (I am also applying for PIP but I am now waiting for the appointment). We have a mortgage and receive £100 a month towards that. I am currently trying to start up a small business with the help of the DWP’s permitted work scheme but with my medical conditions this has yet to make any profit and I struggle to even do 10 hours a week. Ignoring the permitted work for a second, t would seem that under Universal Credit we could currently be substantially better off.

    However, my aim was to move my business on towards the allowed 15 hours and £115 a week, then onto working tax credits and hopefully provide enough income to eventually come off income related benefits entirely. With UC the situation seems to be completely different, especially if I do not qualify for PIP (My main medical condition automatically puts me in the support group but is not covered by DLA or PIP. It is only secondary conditions that have now worsened that could qualify me for PIP. These could improve in the future removing qualification, while my life long medical condition is here to stay).

    It would appear to me that the permitted work scheme has completely disappeared with UC. Bearing in mind that this scheme also protects other benefits like our mortgage payment and entitlement to council tax benefit. Am I right or am I missing something?

    Sorry for the long post. Thanks.

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Anne,

      Thanks for your question.

      Under the ‘permitted work’ scheme you could work up to 16 hours a week and earn up to £115.50 and this wouldn’t affect your benefits entitlement. The rules are different under Universal Credit (UC). With limited capacity to work you’ll be able to earn up to £397 a month before your UC is affected, at this point it will reduce at a rate of 65p for every pound you earn (reducing slightly to 63p next April). So your UC will decrease the more you work, but this will be more than offset by your extra earnings.

      You can input your details into our free Policy in Practice Universal Credit Calculator here, which will tell you exactly what you are entitled to under UC. You can change the number of hours here to see how much your benefit changes.

      If there is any more we can do to help, please post here.

      • Hi again Jethro.

        Can you tell me how the self employed earnings will be treated under UC, I anticipate that my earnings will fluctuate greatly through out the year, with a high percentage of the years profits made in the run up to Christmas.

        I currently not well enough to be doing anything within permitted work , still in the support group also receiving PIP. I would like to know however if it is even worth me considering the self employment route in the future.


  44. Stephanie Durrant

    I am now on Universal Credits and I am currently applying for a mortgage of £63,000
    This is proving to be difficult as there is no paper statement like before, with tax credits
    Is it actually possibly to get a mortgage using universal credits?

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Stephanie

      Thanks for your question.

      Have you been given, or been able to print out your Universal Credit award notice? It may look something like the award notice here.

      Having part of your income made up of benefits shouldn’t stop you obtaining a mortgage, however it may be more difficult depending on which benefits you receive.

      You may be able to receive some help paying your mortgage under Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). Some lenders may be reluctant to count benefits as a source of income and most will look more favourably on those who are in full time employment.

      Under Universal Credit, households in work are not eligible for support for mortgage interest. If you are out of work it is only available after receiving Universal Credit for 9 months, and it will be a loan not a benefit.

      You should ensure your earnings plus your Universal Credit payment is sufficient to cover your mortgage and day to day living costs. There are many mortgage lenders; different providers have different rules so it is worth shopping around and looking into different options.

      If there is any more we can do help, please post here.

      • Steph Durrant

        Yes – my mortgage advisor has a copy of the online statement. It doesn’t seem to be broken down in as much detail and I think this maybe the problem
        I don’t know if it’s my particular scenario or the universal credits themselves
        Just worrying myself silly over the whole thing because if I can’t buy, i’ll have to rent and I didn’t really want to do that.

  45. Steph Durrant

    Oh no!!
    We don’t have it in that format
    How can I get this?
    When I call them they tell me that there is no paper statement

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Steph.

      Thank you for your question.

      The paper statement is available through your work coach, who will be able to print it out for you. This should provide a detailed break-down of your Universal Credit entitlement.

      If you have any other questions please post here.

  46. In my last employment I was, like many people, paid a month in arrears and as this PAYE payment date fell within my first assessment period following a new claim for UC after leaving work, I have had 65% of my final earnings deducted from the first UC payment. This seems wrong, effectively taking away money earnt before any claim was made. Can anything be done about this?

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Jon,

      Thanks for your question.

      Universal Credit (UC) is calculated on a month-by-month basis and as you earn more the amount you receive will reduce at a rate of 65p (reducing to 63p next April) for every pound you earn. As UC is calculated monthly unfortunately if you receive earnings from your previous job during a month in which you are claiming then this will be taken off your UC amount for the month. This will not be the case in months that you don’t receive any earnings. You can find more information on the payment cycles of UC here.

      If there is any more we can do to help, please post here.

  47. Hi there,

    I am in the process of apply with my partner Universal Credit. I have been asked to produce my bank statements. I work part-time and have £ 4500 credit on my bank account. Would this trouble me while doing this claim? How much funds does a claimant need to have on his account in general?
    Thank you.

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Ahmed,

      Thank you for your question.

      Under Universal Credit (UC) any amount of savings or capital under £6,000 will be ignored when calculating the amount you will receive, so in your case your savings will not affect your entitlement.

      Those with savings or capital between £6000 and £16,000 are assumed to be receiving an income from this, called a tariff income. For every £250 of savings or capital you have over £6,000 it’s assumed you will receive an income of £1 a week – this amount is deducted from your UC. If you have savings or capital of over £16,000 you won’t be able to get Universal Credit.

      If you have any other questions please post here.

  48. What if a one-time payment like a tax rebate or accurred holiday hours paid by an agency is paid whilst on uc, will this be classed as receiving an income and will the job centre have to be notified of this, how will UC be effected.

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Jay.

      Thanks for your question.

      Under Universal Credit (UC) income information is taken directly from your employer, so there is no need to notify anyone of changes in your income. UC is calculated monthly, based on what you have earnt that month – as you earn more your UC amount decreases. The amount you receive reduces at a rate of 65p (though changing to 63p from April) for every pound you earn, so as you earn more your UC amount decreases, but your extra income more than offsets it. A one-time payment of tax rebate would be treated as earnings. You can find more information about reporting fluctuating income and UC here.

      If you have any other questions please post here.

      • Hi this is a reply for Jay- remember that little thing called privacy, well whilst on UC you no longer have it. Basically the UC credit team aka big bro get to see what ever changes are attached to your Nat Insurance account, ie earnings, and yes holiday pay and yes tax rebates, so if you receive anything like the aforementioned, your UC will be lowered or none at all given and magically you won’t need to actually ‘inform them’, the uc team- so no worries there. just best getting off it for good really as it will get worse.

  49. Hi. I currently receive wtc & ctc but am moving onto uc due to having a new baby. I am therefore currently on mat leave recieving stat pay. My first question is: when my tax credits stop for a five week break before uc begins will I get a 4 week run on of tax credits?
    Second question: will I get a top up for the income I’m missing out on due to mat leave? Usually I earn £1200 a month & stat pay is approx £600!!
    Third question: If I choose to take the full year mat leave, the final 12 weeks are unpaid, will my uc payment increase for those 12 weeks to reflect that or will I simply have to go without?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Remi.

      Thank you for your question.

      Your first Universal Credit (UC) payment will be made up to one month and 14 days after your initial claim, this payment will include your benefits for that period.

      You may receive less under UC than under the current system. Your change to UC will probably be classified as a ‘natural migration’, as you are moving to the new system due to a change in circumstances. In this case you will not be entitled to transitional protection. You can read more about the migration process here.

      In the final 12 weeks of your maternity leave you will get higher amount of UC, though if you have a partner who is working then this may not be the case.

      You can get an estimate of your entitlement when your circumstances change on our benefit calculator here.

      If you have any other questions please post here.

  50. is there still a 3k limit for children savings that are accessible before age 18 and is child trust fund disregarded?

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Kayleigh.

      Thanks for your question.

      If your child’s savings are over £3,000 they may affect your benefit entitlement, but it depends what benefits you’re on. However, if you hold an asset (like a trust fund) as a trustee it is not counted as part of your capital; it will not affect your entitlement. You can find useful information on savings and capital here.

      If you have any other questions please post here.

      • it will be housing benefit, so child trust fund wouldn’t be counted for 3k limit?

        • Jethro Martin

          Hello Kayleigh.

          Thank you for your question.

          That’s right, if you hold an asset (like a trust fund) as a trustee it is not counted as part of your capital; it will not affect your entitlement.

          If you have any other questions please post here.

  51. Miss Shipman

    I had a 4 week gap in employment last year and had to change from WTC to UC. I know that there were changes to Council Tax Reduction at the same time but my earnings are only slightly higher than they were in my previous job and yet I am pretty much paying full council tax. When I questioned why, I was told that the Housing element of my UC is included in my income thus on paper my weekly income is double what I actually earn. I am struggling to keep myself afloat financially and have even been singed off work with stress (first time ever) and it’s all down to my financial situation. I am actually better off not working, surely that’s not right?

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Miss Shipman.

      Thank you for your question.

      Sorry to hear that you’ve been signed off work because of stress. It can’t be an easy time for you.

      In 2013 local authorities started managing the Council Tax Reduction scheme, so in each area of the country the scheme is different. It is very rare for your housing element of UC to be included in your income. Which local authority is responsible for your area?

      Being out of work may affect your Council Tax Support. As your earnings are lower you will receive more support, though the amount depends on your council tax band and the Council Tax Reduction scheme in your area.

      If you have any other questions please post here.

  52. Hi

    I was under the impression that transitional protection would apply to those who had capital in excess of £16000? Is this not the case?

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Jennifer.

      Thank you for your question.

      Those with capital (savings) of more than £16,000 are usually not entitled to Universal Credit (UC), however you may get transitional protection if you are moved from tax credits to UC by HMRC or DWP, which may mean your entitlement continues if you have savings of more than £16,000. This transitional protection only applies to people who are ‘managed migrated’ (moved by HMRC or DWP to UC) and not to anyone who has a change of circumstances that causes their tax credits to end and need make a new benefits claim to UC. You can find more information on that here.

      If you have any other questions please post here.

  53. Hi this is a reply for Jay- remember that little thing called privacy, well whilst on UC you no longer have it. Basically the UC credit team aka big bro get to see what ever changes are attached to your Nat Insurance account, ie earnings, and yes holiday pay and yes tax rebates, so if you receive anything like the aforementioned, your UC will be lowered or none at all given and magically you won’t need to actually ‘inform them’, the uc team- so no worries there. just best getting off it for good really as it will get worse.

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Jacqui.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Most employers are required to use the government’s Real Time Information (RTI) system to report certain information, which is then used in your Universal Credit (UC) calculation. The advantage of this system is that you don’t have to worry about reporting your income, which is especially useful if it changes frequently. This automation can also help prevent fraudulent claims being made.

      If you have any questions please post here.

  54. I have moved over from ctc & wtc to universal currently having an on going issue of my son who under ctc i was entiltled to continue to claim until his 20th birthday (He’s in full time education) or as long as I was still claiming child benefit for him which I am! However UTC maintain I am not entitled to claim for him as he is 19 and classed as a non dependant which is a complete contradiction to child benefit and ctc how can 2 government funded benefits have 2 different rules

    • Jethro Martin

      Hi Beccy.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Your son may not necessarily be classified as a non-dependant just yet but would be very soon, and may even be able to claim Universal Credit himself after he finishes with the full-time education he is currently enrolled in.
      Universal Credit was designed to make things simpler for claimants by rolling multiple benefits into one single application and one single payment, and therefore includes the child element.

      The upper limits on the eligibility criteria for the child element under Universal Credit, which replaces child tax credits, differs slightly to the existing criteria under child tax credits. Under Universal Credit, you may receive child element until the end of August (after his 19th birthday) if he is in eligible education. On the other hand, child tax credits can be claimed till he turns 20 and in eligible education, provided he was enrolled before he turned 19. You will still continue to receive Child Benefit until he is eligible as they are administered separately.

      If you have another question please post here.

  55. Due to my own lack of research, I ommitted to declare a 1 hour a week for which I consider casual work . when I notify UC, what will happen? The earnings were under £20, which I thought you could earn without declaring

    • Zoe Charlesworth

      Hi Amber, the amount of earnings that is disregarded under UC is different to under the old benefits. If you have a child or are disabled or ill, there is a work allowance so this will make no difference to your claim if it is your only earnings (although you will still need to inform DWP). If you do not fit in either of these categories then all your earnings is taken into account. You need to inform the DWP as soon as possible and they will recover any over payment from ongoing benefit.

  56. I am a single parent with a child under 2. I am in receipt of ESA (support group) £188 per week. I also receive PIP daily living allowance standard rate of £222.70 per 4 weekly. I also get child tax credits £248.60 per 4 weekly and child benefit £82.40 per 4 weekly. I get full housing benefit at the moment. I have recently been offered a 2 bedroom house through the social, and I have been told the area I am moving into, have all moved over to universal credit, meaning I cannot claim housing benefit – I will need to make a new claim for Universal Credit. I am wondering what I will lose? My workings out were around £244 worse off per calendar month. I’m guessing a move in address is a change in circumstances – enough for me to lose out on The transitional payment protection top-up. Help please!

  57. What happens when there are 5 weeks in the month, do we miss a weeks payment on universal credit?

    • Zoe Charlesworth

      Hi Lorraine, if you receive 5 weekly payments of earnings or another benefit (such as Carers Allowance or contribution-based ESA or JSA) this will increase your income in that calendar month so your UC will reduce accordingly. If you receive 2 lots of four-weekly payments in a month (e.g. if you work in retail you are likely to be paid every four weeks) the difference may be enough to take your UC to zero. If this happens you will need to remember to re-start your claim the following month.

  58. Universal Credit has been an absolute nightmare for me, leaving me over £400 short per month than the old JSA which was bad enough and left me with only £3 per week for total expenses after rent payments.

    I am self-employed and recently started a new business. Not only was my UC application (in June) severely delayed with the first payment only made to me three months after application date (August). My housing application was only processed in September, four months late. Last month DWP suddenly started deducting 65% of my estimated take-home pay on zero reported earnings meaning I received a total of £417.97 per month to cover rent, bills and food in Central London.
    Although my self-employment is new I was forced to report MIF which apparently should not be applicable to me. I am also given no clear breakdown and explanation how this useless system works that 65% can be deducted at all from the minimum income floor if a person is on zero earnings.

    I am infuriated at the nonchalant treatment I have received and the refusal for DWP to answer my questions each time I want a clarification. They also do not process complaints although I have asked for a review to the deductions for many weeks now. I face daily eviction notices due to all these errors. There should be a class action lawsuit against this horrible system and the people who created it. It’s unacceptable treatment of people.

    • Zoe Charlesworth

      Hi AJ, I hope this has been sorted for you by now. There were certainly some issues with backlogs and staff training in some of the benefit centres but I have heard that these are now improving. It does sound like the Minimum Income Floor should not be applied in your case as your business is new. If you started your business within 12 months of applying for Universal Credit you should have 12 months when the MIF does not apply. If you started your business whilst on Universal Credit you should have 12 months from the start of the business. If this has not been sorted out yet you could see if your local council could help with payments towards your rent whilst you wait for it to be sorted. They have discretionary funding (Discretionary Housing Payments) to assist tenants. It may also be worth seeing if your local MP or Councillor can put pressure on UC on your behalf – this sometimes produces results.

      • @ZoeCharlesworth

        I am sorry but you must be living in some form of fairytale land that the rest of us have no access to.

        You appear to assume there is a functioning system out there, always available to give some form of emergency help to people. I actually laughed when you suggested that the council will step in and provide Discretionary Housing Payments! Clearly you have little first hand experience how the system works or you get some form of special treatment. This option exists only on paper at my local council, which is supposedly the wealthiest in the country. It does NOT exist in real life. If it’s this bad here I cannot imagine how it functions with other councils.
        Our local council doesn’t even respond to DHP applications and never do they grant them. In the past five years I have made four DHP applications in emergency cases. Not even one was responded to by the council (who always pretend they ‘never received’ the applications even if they are filed right in front of them). Not even one was granted after I made further efforts to file the application and wait for the response right there since they otherwise won’t process the application. They explained they do not take applications for DHP. Especially now with Universal Credit, they do not want to manage anything that has to do with housing benefits and refer you back to the Job Center. A response from them now takes one month. What will you live on for that one month? I am not surprised the Grenfield fire happened under the inept eye of very same council.

        The Job Center does not offer and does not provide any information for advance payments even when they know they have made errors. I’ve asked for advanced payments during the 24 weeks of errors committed to my Universal Credit application and the missing payments. Each time I was told that this is not being offered except in ‘exceptional cases’. Obviously extreme delays to payments was not exceptional enough.

        Furthermore, your statement about MIF contradicts what the Job Center is telling me. The Job Center told me that even if MIF is ‘recommended’ after the 12 months they can demand MIF at any time and start cutting the benefits if self-employed people don’t meet their expected targets sooner, according to the training they have received. This decision can be made by the Job Center which I find astonishing.

        As if this is not bad enough it gets no better with housing benefits. The Job Center has informed me that the new system require housing paid for any form of temporary housing – common in London where there is a housing crisis (even if that housing is on long-term basis) – to be re-applied MONTHLY as a “change in cicumstances”. This is just another failed feature in the new system. Why should “changes of circumstances” have to be re-applied each month if there are no changes to circumstances? It gives the wrong impression in the system that I keep constantly reporting changes to circumstances while I am told I have to do it. The explanation given is that “some” temporary housing is on a daily rate and payments change if people don’t stay in them regularly. Why should those circumstances be mixed with others where long-term arrangements are made and letter proof provided to prove so?

        The benefit system does not function properly. It’s been put together by ignorant and insensitive people. It victimizes people which is why many are pushed over the edge and commit suicides over it.

        I have been put over £3,000 in debt from high-interest loans to cover my rent for months when errors to my application was made and payments were outstanding. The interest keeps accumulating. The sheer stress caused me serious medical conditions which I am now having to deal with. I have been offered nothing but a paltry £50 in compensation! It’s a disgrace.

        Those responsible should be taken to court in a class-action lawsuit. No government must be allowed to play Russian Roulette with people’s lives in this manner. Europeans never go through this volume of nightmares with their social support system.

        • Zoe Charlesworth

          Hi AJ, I am sorry that you have faced these responses. Your council is given a sum of money which they MUST use for DHPs but this can be used at their discretion. This is for claimants receiving Housing Benefit AND the housing element of Universal Credit. Could you let me know which council this is so I can have a look at their policy?

          Short Term benefit Advances must be considered if you can prove financial hardship (ie you are having difficulty paying rent or affording food). It seems that this was not followed in your case.

          Regarding MIF, this is not discretionary. You can find the guidance at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/661668/admh4.pdf. The relevant part are:

          H4100 A start-up period is a period of 12 months. It applies from the beginning of the assessment period in which the Secretary of State determines that a claimant is, for the purposes of UC, in gainful self-employment where the claimant 1. has commenced their self-employment as their main employment in the 12 months before the beginning of that assessment period and 2. is taking active steps to increase their S/E earnings to the level of their individual threshold .
          H4101 Where a claimant is determined to be in a start-up period then the minimum income floor cannot apply . However, the actual earnings from S/E have to be taken into account

          It does appear that a number of things have gone wrong with your claim – I wish you luck in sorting it out

          • My local council is Kensington & Chelsea. They have NEVER honoured DHP in extreme duress even when CAB referred me to them. Not even one of my applications over the years received a response. My emails were ignored.
            STBA has never been offered to me although I went through absolutely maddening hardship with only £417 paid to me to cover two months and had to beg to not lose my housing. I continue to be in debt solely due to six months of errors made to my UC application and faulty cuts to my payments. The 12-month start-up period does not seem to be authentic because they still insist that I may be cut from it at any moment and I continue to have to report MIF. Due to the errors they made to my application and the debts they put me in forcing me to take loans, my start-up period was severely delayed and restricted and only started last month. I have been denied a new starting date for my start-up period so I can catch up. I demanded a new starting period since my application has been in error for six months.

            This system makes conditions worse for people, and no one wants to actually help resolve anything. They have no remorse at all for creating massive problems for me which I did not have until they created a mess out of my application.

  59. Hi,
    Struggling to see if my student loans will affect us when we move over in 2019. Please can you help?
    I am a full time student, also work a day a week on my day off( term time only). My husband works full time. We currently only receive child tax credit. Will any grants/ loans applied for next year be taken into consideration for us? We’ve been told as we don’t get help for rent it won’t but everything I read looks like it will.

    • Deven Ghelani

      Hi Sam, You can use our benefits calculator at https://www.betteroffcalculator.co.uk/#/calculator/new/step1 to see if you will be eligible for any benefits. In general, most grants or loans (whether you take them or not) are counted as income and taken into account to see if you qualify for any means-tested benefits. Certain loans/grants are excluded and these are shown in the calculator. Given that you have a child you are certainly eligible to apply for means-tested benefits – whether you qualify will depend on your husband’s income and your student income. If your husband is working full time you should consider applying for Working Tax Credit (from HMRC), Housing Benefit (from your local council – if you rent your home) and Council Tax Support (from your local council)

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