Universal Credit

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new working-age benefit being introduced across the country as part of the government’s welfare reforms.

Universal Credit is replacing:

  • Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support

It's being introduced gradually across Bristol from June 2018. 

You’ll only move onto Universal Credit when it has been introduced to your area and you need to make a new claim for any of the benefits and tax credits it replaces.

You can still claim current benefits and tax credits until Universal Credit is introduced to your area. 

Find out when Universal Credit might be introduced to your area by using our postcode checker.

If Universal Credit is introduced to your area, but your circumstances do not change, you’ll continue to get your current benefits and tax credits for the time being.  

The Department for Work and Pensions will let you know when you need to transfer onto Universal Credit.

You will still need to claim Housing Benefit from Bristol City Council for help with your rent if you:

You can’t claim Universal Credit if you have three or more children. You’ll need to make a claim for current benefits and tax credits.  This includes Housing Benefit for help with your rent.

Applying for Universal Credit

Most applications for Universal Credit need to be made online.  

Check that Universal Credit is available in your area by using our postcode checker before you apply for Universal Credit online.

See this checklist (pdf, 119KB) (opens new window) (pdf, 119KB) (opens new window)  for the information you’ll need to have to complete your application.

If you do not have access to the internet you can visit our Citizen Service Point at 100 Temple Street where support will be provided if you need it.  You can also visit one of Bristol’s libraries or community venues. Check availability with the community venue before visiting.

Once you have made your claim for Universal Credit, you will need to arrange an interview at your local Jobcentre Plus where you will meet your workcoach.  

You will be asked to provide any supporting documents and evidence as well as discussing what you will be required to do in order to get your Universal Credit payments.

Advice if you already get or have applied for Universal Credit

How you'll be paid

You will receive your first payment for Universal Credit between five and six weeks after you make your claim.  

Then you will receive a payment every month after that.  This will include money to help with your rent and will usually be paid directly your bank account.

If you don’t have a bank account you will need to open one. You can get a basic account for free from most high street banks.  You’ll need to take some ID and proof of address.

Find out more about basic bank accounts on the Money Advice Service website.

In addition, Bristol Credit Union may be able to help you to open an account with them.

Advance payments

If you’re entitled to Universal Credit you may be able to get an advance payment. This is to help you manage while waiting for your first payment or after a change in circumstances that increases your entitlement.  

This advance payment will need to be repaid over 12 months.

You’ll be advised about an advance payment at your interview. If you’ve already had your interview, you can phone the Universal Credit helpline:

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (closed on bank holidays)

Money advice

Keep track of your spending

Find out about the free tools available to help you manage your money on the Money Advice Service website and access the free money manager tool.

The Money Advice Service also has a Universal Credit questionnaire that provides practical advice depending on your circumstances.

You can also talk to your job coach who can refer you for free personal budget support.

Local advice centres

If you’re a housing association tenant your landlord may also be able to help.

Find more advice centres on the Advice Network website.

Get money off your Council Tax

If you’re on a low income, you may be able to get a Council Tax Reduction.

Money in an emergency

If you’re struggling to pay for essentials like food, gas and electricity, you may be able to get short term help from the local crisis and prevention fund.