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Applying for Universal Credit

Applying for Universal Credit is not always easy. We need to be prepared, and ready to face a few setbacks

Universal Credit is designed to make benefit payments more like the way wages are paid. So the biggest challenge we’ll face as we’re moved to UC is that we’ll have to go several weeks without any money before suddenly getting a large amount. Some claimants have had to wait twelve weeks. The only way to manage this is to be prepared.

Since the government did away with the seven-day waiting period before we can make a claim, now all we need to do is arrange an appointment to see Jobcentre Plus. The appointment will usually be about a week later, and assuming that goes well we’ll get our first Universal Credit payment four weeks after that. That payment will only be for one month’s money. Then on the same day in every calendar month after that we’ll get a whole month’s payment.

Your Jobcentre Plus may currently have a ‘Live’ or ‘Full’ Universal Credit service. The ‘Live’ service only affects single people with straightforward claims and is managed by phone. In areas with the ‘Full’ service, all new benefit claims or where the situation has changed (eg, new home or child) will be or become UC (unless you have more than two children) and is managed online.

We need to provide loads of details before we can complete our claim, so try to have the following information to hand at the start. Having to go away and check will only delay the set up and, in the end, our first payment. For couples who claim, both partners need the same information.

  • Proof of I.D. (eg Passport, driving licence or EAA ID card)
  • National Insurance Number
  • Our email address • Our phone number • Our address
  • Our landlord’s address
  • How much rent we pay (proof may be required, such as a
    tenancy agreement or recent rent statement)
  • Our bank details
  • Details of any savings we have
  • Full details of our salary or any other income (including
    other benefits)
    If we have children

  • Their details, Child Benefit number
  • Childcare Provider’s address and registration number


Your first claim appointment is an interview with your ‘Work Coach’, your key contact from now on. Here you will have to sign a ‘claimant commitment’ that outlines what you are expected to do to find a job if you’re unemployed or better paid work if you only earn a little. It is vital you explain everything holding you back.
If you agree to more than you can do and don’t keep to the commitment, you may be sanctioned. You can ask to change your Work Coach.
Importantly, most sanctions have been overturned on appeal so if you are sanctioned contact an advice agency straight away.

Read more from Quids in! on UC here, buy a copy of our Universal Credit Guide here.

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  1. What forms of ID are acceptable if you don’t have a passport, driving licence or ID card? I’m sure I’m not the only one in this situation… it’s not particularly helpful to hear “ask the Jobcentre” – that can be a long and frustrating process!

  2. Hi Steve,

    Our team in Bath have had some experience of this. It seems that it’s hard to find online the other forms of ID DWP will accept.

    Firstly, try this Home Office webpage that lists the usual forms of ID the government accepts. The most common being bank statements or previous letters from the DWP or HMRC. These generally need to be dated within the last three months. However, in some instances the Jobcentre has asked for a letter from an employer (or another professional such as a probation worker) to confirm the personal details of the claimant. In Bath we found claimants can use their Bath Resident Card as a form of ID, so if you have a local resident card scheme or something similar, that may be acceptable at your Jobcentre.

    However, the most common way Jobcentre Plus complete your ID verification if you do not have a passport or driving licence is to ask five ‘biometric’ questions. There is no list of questions but they are generally around previous benefits you have claimed. You do not need to get all five questions right to pass your ID so do not worry if you do not know the answer to all the questions. (Banks do similar security checks sometimes, asking what date you received money and how much, for example.)

    Foreign nationals should also have proof of status that shows they are eligible to claim benefits in the UK, such as documents proving leave to remain, leave to earn, or citizenship of qualifying country (eg, EU).

    The government promised an online identity check called Verify but (as of June 2018) it is not working properly. They recognise there is a possible problem that could cause horrible delays but, like the UC system itself, the solutions have been scuppered by IT problems. Keep an eye on https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/introducing-govuk-verify/introducing-govuk-verify and maybe try it out to see if it works for you.

    In summary, we have found that the Jobcentre will accept alternatives to the standard forms of ID depending on the circumstances of the person claiming and the area that they live. You should find that there is a workaround you can use. The best step forward is to ask the phone operator about this when you ring to book your ID appointment as they will go through different forms of ID that they accept. If possible, get all this in place (and checked with DWP) before you need to apply for UC as you don’t want this causing delays to your claim.

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