Everyone needs help once in a while, and the benefits system is there to help people when they’re not working, can’t work or are on a low income.
We know that claiming benefits can sometimes be confusing and complicated. You’ll find information about benefits on these pages, but we also have a team to help if you get stuck. You can contact them on 01454 411172 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Universal Credit replaces a number of benefits including Housing Benefit with one single monthly payment for your household.
Universal Credit replaces the following payments:
All other benefits will continue as now. Don’t forget that if you get help with your council tax, you will have to claim it separately from your Local Authority.
You can apply for Universal Credit online via the Gov.uk website here.
You might also need to attend an interview at your local Jobcentre Plus. You’ll be told if you need to attend an interview after you apply.
If your application is successful, you’ll get your first payment around 5 weeks after applying online.
Your payments will be paid monthly into your bank so you will need to open an account if you don’t already have one to receive Universal Credit payments.
We recommend that you open a separate bank account to receive your Universal Credit payment. This way, your payment won’t be mixed up with your current cash.
If you need help bridging the gap between your initial claim and first payment, you are entitled to one months advance, five days after your claim. This advance will cover personal costs and your housing costs, once these are verified. This advance is repayable over 12 months. Ask your work coach for more information.
As part of the Government's Welfare Reform, the total amount of benefit that can be received will be a set amount for both single people and couples. This is called the benefit cap.
The benefit cap was brought in to make sure that no family received more in benefits than the average working household. The benefit cap is worked out:
If you live outside of London, the benefit cap is currently:
You can keep an eye on benefit cap amounts by visiting the gov.uk website here.
Benefits affected by the Benefit Cap are:
The benefit cap doesn't apply if you or your partner:
If you or a member of your household are receiving one of the benefits below, the benefit cap will not apply to you:
You are also exempt from the benefit cap if you, your partner or children receive:
Bedroom Tax (also known as under occupancy charge or the Spare Room Subsidy) is a change to Housing Benefit Entitlement that means if you are of working age you will receive less in housing benefit if you live in a housing association or council property that is deemed to have one or more spare bedrooms.
The bedroom tax will not apply for the first 13 weeks of your housing benefit claim if you haven't claimed within the last 52 weeks.
Bedroom tax does not apply to:
There are different rules about bedroom tax. The following would not be taxable:
Your housing benefit might still be reduced if a lodger pays you rent or if you live with adult friends or relatives who are expected to contribute to your rent.
You can't get housing benefit for bedrooms you use for:
Your housing benefit will not be affected if your child is in the armed forces and away on operations if they:
They can be away indefinitely as long as they intend to return.
The following household members can also count as occupying a bedroom if they are only away temporarily: