Connection to universal credit – this is how the new benefit system works

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The Universal Credit is the biggest change to the social protection system in a generation.

It was meant to keep everything simple, but sparked huge controversy due to the financial difficulty of many applicants.

So how does the system work?

You are eligible for universal credit if:

  • you are low income or unemployed

  • you are 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you are 16 to 17)

  • you have not reached the age of eligibility for the state pension credit (or your partner has)

  • you and your partner have £ 16,000 or less in savings between you

  • you live in the UK

Your partner’s income and savings will be taken into account, even if they are not eligible for Universal Credit or have no intention of making a claim.

Find out more here about eligibility, including criteria if you have children, are in training or studying, or have reached retirement age.



A universal credit application form

To obtain universal credit, TWO accounts are necessary.

One is a universal credit line account where your details (such as the date of the next payment) are available for you to view, the other is a payment account at a bank or mortgage company where the Ministry of Work and Pensions pays with your money.

Set up your universal credit account

You need an online account to claim universal credit.

And then a claim must be made within 28 days of creating an account.

If you live with a partner, they must also create an account, even if they are not eligible or have no intention of making a claim.

Indeed, the income and savings of your partner are taken into account when processing your request.

A code will be assigned to you by the Department of Work and Pensions in order to link the two accounts.

  • To start your universal credit application and create an account, go to this web page

You need to arrange an interview with Jobcentre Plus and you will receive information on how to do so after submitting your application. It will be within 10 working days.

Applicants with a disability or medical condition may also need a medical assessment.

And if you need help with your bills and other living expenses while you wait for your first payment, you can request an advance.

  • Once your Universal Credit account is created, you can log in here

Use the username and password you defined when you applied for universal credit. You can request a callback if you forgot it.

Log into your Universal Credit account to view your statement, notify DWP of a change in circumstances, request an advance on your first payment, see when your next payment is due, and check the rules attached to your request.

The rules for your claim are known as the Claimant’s Undertaking and if you don’t follow them your payments will be stopped. If this happens, find out what to do here

How is the money paid?

Universal Credit is paid into a bank account, construction company account or other account specified at the time of the claim. The account you name must be able to accept automated payments.

Universal credit will be paid into this account once a month. It is paid in arrears, which means that it covers the previous month and not the month to come.

It takes at least five weeks to receive your first payment.

If you do not agree with the amount that has been paid, you can request that it be reconsidered. This is called a mandatory review and you can learn more about it here.

Below, the heart attack victim declined universal credit:


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But what if you don’t have internet access?

Universal Credit usually requires an online account where your application details are kept, but what if you don’t have easy internet access?

In that case, you can probably use a computer at your local employment office – which can also offer face-to-face counseling – or at the local library.

Access to computers at employment offices and libraries is generally free. Or you can ask a friend or neighbor who has access to a computer, or find the nearest internet cafe (which will charge for the time you spend online).

If you can’t apply online because you have a disability that means you can’t use a computer or have difficulty reading and writing, you should be able to make a claim over the phone instead.

To find out how to make a claim over the phone, you must call the Universal Credit helpline.

The numbers to call are:

Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Welsh language: 0800 012 1888
Textphone for the hearing impaired: 0800 328 1344

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