How Universal Credit is Different From the Old Welfare System

Almost everything is different about Universal Credit (UC) compared to the old system:

  • It is paid monthly, in arrears, and the first payment is at least five weeks after we make our first claim. If we’re used to the old system, payments no longer arrive separately but in one go
  • Payments include any housing costs to cover rent (that Housing Benefit used to cover). It’s our job to make sure rent is paid
  • One payment is made for all claimants living at the same household, except in Scotland. (See Scottish Choices here)
  • The claim has to be managed online, starting with the claim itself then day-to-day using an electronic Journal. More details here
  • Almost all claimants will need a mainstream bank account that receive electronic payments. If we’re smart, it will also handle direct debits so we don’t need to keep thinking about rent payments and bills
  • When working, we don’t lose benefits pound for pound. There is a ‘tapered’ approach and some people can earn over £503 before anything is deducted from UC payments. Read more on earnings and allowances here
  • What’s the catch? We have to sign a Claimant Commitment promising to do our bit to get a job, more hours or better paid work. Fail to stick to it and we could be penalised. More here