What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit (UC) is a new working-age benefit being introduced gradually across the country as part of the government’s welfare reforms. The aim of UC is to simplify the benefits system by replacing a range of benefits and tax credits.

It is a benefit for anyone on a low to moderate income and it does not matter whether you are in or out of work, or how many hours you work. This is because it is a means-tested benefit which means that your entitlement depends on income, savings and personal circumstances.

It is a benefit for people of working age, which means that single people of pension credit age, and couples where both members are pension credit age cannot claim it (they claim pension credit and housing benefit instead). Couples where one member is under pension credit age will need to claim UC unless they are already on pension credit.

Which benefits is it replacing?

UC brings together six benefits and tax credits and replaces them with a single monthly payment.

It replaces:

  • Income-based jobseekers allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • Income support
  • Child tax credit
  • Working tax credit
  • Housing benefit

All other benefits not included in the above list will continue to be paid as usual, such as child benefit, carers allowance and council tax support.

When is it being introduced?

Some people are already receiving UC, mainly single people and couples but in some areas families with children. The common factor is that it is currently for claimants that are fit for work.

This limited form of UC, called the "live service" started in Cheltenham in June 2015 but there is currently a national roll out of the "full service" for UC which will start in Cheltenham on 6 December 2017 where there will be a phased introduction of UC for new benefit claimants.

New benefit claimants

If you are a new claimant you must use the Universal Credit system. It will be introduced to GL50 and GL51 postcodes on 6 December 2017 and GL52 and GL53 postcodes on 17 January 2018. However, new claimants with three or more children will not move to the new system. 

Existing claimants

If you are already claiming, you will continue to receive benefits under the previous system unless there is a significant change affecting your claim. 

Council tax support

The only other exception is council tax support payments which you will still need to apply for directly from Cheltenham Borough Council.

Please remember that Universal Credit is not dealt with by Cheltenham Borough Council. The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for delivering this benefit.

However, the housing benefits team are available to answer questions about Housing Benefit and the move to Universal Credit. If you need help or advice please call the Benefits Helpline

More detailed information about Universal Credit can be found on the GOV.UK website