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Universal Credit Rules Explained

The Universal Credit roll out continues in stages across the United Kingdom. In short, UC is replacing six welfare benefits with one monthly payment for those who qualify. You will find the information on Universal Credit rules separated into two sections below. The first explains how to claim UC and the second is a help guide relating to support and special circumstances.


The new benefit system will provide a regular payment to help with the cost of living. In most cases, Universal Credit payments will get paid every four weeks. But, some claimants in Scotland will get paid twice a month.

You must meet the eligibility criteria to claim Universal Credit. As a rule, most people on a low income or those who are out of work will get it.

Universal Credit has not yet rolled to all areas of the United Kingdom. So, your area postcode and your household circumstances will determine whether you can claim.

Note: Some of the rules for Universal Credit benefit system differ for claimants living in Northern Ireland. The ‘Credyd Cynhwysol‘ guide is also available in Welsh language (Cymraeg).

You may already be receiving payments from the list of benefits that Universal Credit will replace. They are:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit [See new housing costs under Universal Credit]
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

What if you are currently receiving any of these benefits? It means you will not be able to claim Universal Credit at the same time.

So, there is no need for benefit claimants to do anything. The Department for Work and Pensions will contact you.

DWP will help you move to Universal Credit when the roll out reaches your area. The exception could be if any of your circumstances change. In this case, you would need to report the changes in the usual way.

BENEFITS OVERVIEW: The A to Z list of benefits and allowances covers all categories of social welfare. Check out your rights to financial benefits and allowances in the United Kingdom.

BENEFITS OVERVIEW: The A to Z list of benefits and allowances covers all categories of social welfare. Check out your rights to financial benefits and allowances in the United Kingdom.

Universal Credit Benefit System

Eligibility Criteria

Most people will qualify for Universal Credit if they are out of work or get a low income. There are several ways to check if you meet the Universal Credit eligibility criteria.

Allowance Rates 2022

Information in the section lists the current rates of Universal Credit. The guide will help you work out the different amounts available – depending on your circumstances.

Payment Frequency

The DWP have some flexibility on the payment frequencies of Universal Credit. As a rule, Universal Credit is a single payment paid monthly into a secure account (e.g. bank, building society).

How to Make a Claim

You must apply for Universal Credit online, or through your account if you have claimed before. Claim UC as a couple if you and your partner are living together (even if you are not married).

First Payment Advance

You can get an advance while waiting for the first payment of Universal Credit. It applies most to claimants who need help paying bills or covering other living costs.

Claimant Commitment

The section explains your responsibilities if you get Universal Credit. The agreement made with your work coach is the ‘Claimant Commitment’.

Reporting Changes

You must report a change of circumstances for Universal Credit to avoid getting a penalty. Also, reporting changes means you will receive the right amount each month.

Financial Support Available

You might get other financial support if you are struggling on Universal Credit. Find out what help you can get from your council, the government, and other organisations.

Extra Help and Support

Benefits Calculators

You can use a benefit calculator to work out your entitlement rights. Benefit calculators are anonymous and free to use online.

Claim ‘New Style’ ESA

The ‘new style’ Employment Support Allowance is a financial benefit given to those who cannot work. It also provides personalised help for those who need special assistance to be in work.

Claim ‘New Style’ JSA

The Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is the main unemployment benefit for those who are searching for work. Find out what you can get and how to claim the ‘new style’ Jobseeker’s Allowance (or reclaim it).

Finding a Job

You can search and apply for jobs in Great Britain using the government ‘Find a job‘ service. The system lists full and part-time jobs in England, Scotland, and in Wales.

Health Conditions and Disability

If you are someone with a health condition or a disability Universal Credit can help. An assessment works out how much you can get and your responsibilities for claiming it.

Housing Costs

There are several ways to benefit from the Universal Credit housing costs element. The section explains how the housing costs and Universal Credit work in the United Kingdom.


Check out a Universal Credit self-employment guide for people who work for themselves. It explains how to claim Universal Credit when self-employed and how to report your earnings.

Universal Credit Benefit System in the United Kingdom