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Benefits for working age people

Universal Credit

For people of working age, with a low income or no income, the main benefit they may be able to claim is Universal Credit. You can start the process to claim Universal Credit.

Universal Credit helps with day to day living and can also help you pay rent and some service charges (not mortgage).  More information about help with living in a property that you own is available. 

Universal Credit is paid monthly, in arrears.  If you wish, you can apply for a short-term advance payment that is then recovered from future benefit payments.

The amount you will receive is 'means-tested'.  This means that it depends on your income and your partner's income.  Also, you cannot have joint savings/capital of more than £16,000.

You may be able to claim Universal Credit if, for example, you are working, looking for work, not in work due to sickness or disability, or have caring responsibilities. 

If you are eligible, Universal Credit payments can be claimed online.  Also, a personalised online Universal Credit journal is available to help you manage your claim, report any changes relating to it and respond to instructions.

If you are unable to claim online you can call the GOV.UK helpline on 0800 328 5644 (open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm) to request a ‘telephone claim’ and explain why you cannot claim online. You will not have an online journal, but text messages will be sent to your mobile phone. You can also speak to someone by phoning the helpline.

If you need support because English is not your first language, ask someone to make a phone call with you and ask for a ‘call back’ with an interpreter. 

If you are D/deaf of hard of hearing, use the British Sign Language Video Relay Service between Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm. Guidance on how to use the BSL video relay service is available.  

Changes to 'legacy benefits'

‘Legacy benefits’ are means-tested benefits such as: 

  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance 
  • Income Support 
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance 
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit 

Some people of working age may be receiving legacy benefits. The government is gradually moving these people over to the means tested benefit called Universal Credit.

When this applies to you, you will receive a letter inviting you to claim Universal Credit. You must not ignore this letter as the legacy benefits you are receiving will stop. You will normally have a deadline of 3 months to do this, starting from the date on the letter. If you go through this process and your income decreases, you may be entitled to a type of Universal Credit top up, called 'transitional protection'. 

A change of circumstance can also trigger a move from legacy benefits to Universal Credit.  This move to Universal Credit may mean the amount you receive increases or decreases. As part of these changes, any new claim for means-tested benefits, or benefits to help pay rent or for day to day living costs will mean claiming Universal Credit.

So, some people will have to claim Universal Credit, while others may choose to move to Universal Credit as they may be better off. However, caution is needed and you should seek advice before making a claim for Universal Credit if you are not sure what to do. 

Finally, some people may be able to claim "contributory benefits", either instead of, or, alongside Universal Credit. Contributory benefits are the: New style Jobseekers allowance and the new style Employment and support allowance.

Warning: Once a claim for Universal Credit has been made, you cannot decide to go back onto your legacy benefits, even if you find yourself worse off. Legacy benefits will stop as soon as you submit a claim for Universal Credit. Seek advice from the Camden Advice Network if you are unsure.

Mixed aged couples and claiming benefits

If you are not currently receiving legacy benefits and live with a partner who is of state pension age, and you are of working age, you will need to make a claim for Universal Credit. 

However, if you are already getting legacy benefits as a couple, please  seek advice before moving to Universal Credit because you may be able to keep your legacy benefits until your circumstances change. 

Council Tax SupportCouncil Tax support is a means-tested benefit which can be claimed by both working age and state pension age people who have a low income or have savings of under £16,000.  This savings limit does not apply if you receive Pension Credit. 

You can apply for Council Tax Support to reduce the amount of Council Tax you need to pay.

Attention: If you are on Universal Credit, you should still apply for Council Tax Support because these are separate benefits

You can apply for Council Tax Support if ALL three of the following applies: 

  • You are liable for Council Tax  
  • You are on a low income or receiving means-tested benefits 
  • You or your partner have savings or assets of less than £16,000 

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