Shropshire Council

Universal credit

About universal credit

Universal credit is a new working age benefit being brought in by the Department for Work & Pensions which will eventually take the place of the income-based (means tested) parts of jobseeker’s allowance and employment and support allowance. It will also replace income support, housing benefit and the child and working tax credits. You can find out more about universal credit by using the links on this page.

It’s being brought in slowly to start with, but we expect many more people - including families and people in work - may be asked to claim it if their circumstances change. You can use the benefits calculator to work out how much Universal Credit you might get and you should seek independent advice to see what your options are before claiming.

There are some things about universal credit that differ from other benefits.

How do I make a claim?

Universal credit claims need to be made using the internet, but Jobcentre Plus has said that if someone can't do this then they may be able to offer help. You should get in touch with your jobcentre first, but there are other places where you might be able to get help or be able to use a computer to make a claim. When you make a claim you may find that you're asked to take information into the jobcentre to support it. It's really important that you do supply everything you need to support your claim, because if you don’t your claim may be delayed, or you could lose money. Reporting all changes will need to be done online soon as well.

Our computer skills for all guidance lists places where you might find help to get online. It's available to download from the related documents section of this page.

How is universal credit paid?

Universal credit will be paid monthly, so you may need to be ready for a change in how often you get paid.  If you're making a new claim, you may have to wait up to five weeks before you get paid. Universal credit will include the money for your rent. It will no longer be paid through housing benefit from Shropshire Council; it will be paid directly to you. This means you'll have to pay your rent to your landlord.

If you think you'd find it difficult to manage with a monthly payment, or you think your home may be at risk, the Money Advice Service can help.

Am I ready for universal credit?

Try the simple test on the DWP website to see what you might need to do to be ready.

How much will I be entitled to?

Using our new benefits calculator, you can input information about your circumstances to see what benefit entitlements you might have. It will do this whether you are out of work or in work. If you are not working at the moment you will be able to see out how much better off you may be by taking a job, if you are in work, you can see how working different hours would affect you.

The calculator is free to use, and the details you provide are anonymous.

Before you start, make sure you have information about your savings, income, pensions and existing benefits (for you and your partner).

If you run out of time, you can save your calculation and come back to it later, and pick up right where you left off.

Where can I find help?

Help to get online or find access to a computer

There are a number of locations around the county where you can access computers. Some of these locations also offer training on computer skills. Take a look at the leaflet in the related documents section of this page.

If you need help to make a claim for universal credit or to manage your universal credit claim online, help is available from Citizens Advice under a new national scheme called ‘Help to claim’. The 'Help to Claim' service is designed to get people successfully through the process of making a claim up to the time of the first payment. It will be available in a way that suits the individual, through face to face, over the phone or online via webchat. If you need this support, please contact Citizens Advice on 0800 144 8 444. For more information, please view their help to claim page

Alternatively you may prefer to look at completing some online IT training using ‘Learn My Way’.

Help with budgeting and money

If you are concerned about being able to manage your money after making a claim to Universal Support, there is help available from various organisations.

If you have requested help under ‘Help to Claim’ (see above), Citizens Advice may assist you with budgeting advice as part of this process.

If you have not requested help under ‘Help to Claim’, you will need to approach an organisation for the support you need.

If you rent your house from a housing association they may be able to help you. Contact your neighbourhood officer for more information.

Alternatively, there are various organisations that can help you with budgeting support and debt advice, including:

  • Community Advice & Advocacy Network (CAAN) - 03444 991100
  • Christians Against Poverty (CAP) – 01274 760720
  • The Money Advice Service - 08001 387777
  • SUSTAIN (budgeting advice) - 01743 285159

If you want to help yourself, there's some helpful information on these websites:

If you are unable to pay for some of your essential expenses whilst you are waiting for your Universal Credit payment, please speak to our Welfare Reform and Support team on 0345 678 9078. They have a scheme called the Local Support and Prevention Fund that may be able to help you.

Where can I find out more about universal credit?

Please call the universal credit freephone number 0800 328 5644. You'll also find some useful information online:

Who can I go to if I need more help?

Housing association: if you're renting a home from a housing association it may be able to help and support you. Speak to your neighbourhood officer for more information. 

Jobcentre Plus: you need to make an appointment to see someone at a jobcentre but you can find your local office on the direct gov website.

Citizen’s Advice Shropshire: find details of your local CAB office on their website.

Help to find work

You'll need to sign a claimant commitment when you claim universal credit. This will include the actions you'll take to find work. We've published a useful work skills leaflet (available to download from the related documents section of this page) that shows you the support available across Shropshire to help you find work or to get more skilled so that you can find work. It also contains information about volunteering and online work search engines.

Fraudulent Universal Credit Advance Payment claims alert

It has been reported that there is a scam whereby fraudsters use their victim’s identity to make a bogus claim for Universal Credit and an online request for an Advance Payment of Universal Credit. The fraudsters target more vulnerable people and once they have made the bogus claim, they then keep or demand a substantial amount of the Advance for themselves.  Many victims only become aware of the scam when their existing benefits stop and they find that they are now on Universal Credit instead and have to repay an advance payment that they never received.

If you think you may be a victim of this type of fraud:

Report the incident to the Police via the Action Fraud number 0300 123 2040.  Explain what happened and whether you received any of the Advance Payment or whether you were forced to transfer money to the fraudster. 

You should also tell the Department for Work and Pensions about this by calling them on 0800 328 5644.