Universal Credit

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new benefit for people of working age who are on a low income or out of work.  It is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and replaces:

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  • Housing Benefit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support

Universal Credit is paid out in arrears in a single monthly household payment direct to a bank, building society or credit union account.  People have to apply online, it will take around five to six weeks to receive their first payment from the DWP.

Note – Universal Credit does NOT include help with paying your Council Tax, and a separate application for help needs to be made to the Council.

You can apply for help with Council Tax online

Until now, new claims for Universal Credit have only been available to a relatively small number of customers in Jobcentres across Cornwall, mainly single people who are looking for work.  Between December 2017 and June 2018 new claims to Universal Credit will become available to everyone whether they are in or out of work. It will include couples, families, and households with sickness or disabilities. This wider rollout of Universal Credit is known as ‘full service’. 

The confirmed rollout for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and key dates can be found on this timeline.

This will be a big change for those who aren’t used to living on a monthly budget, are in financial difficulties or behind on their rent, or who can’t afford to wait for their first payment.  Some changes were announced in the Autumn Budget on 22 November which will provide extra support for people who are making a new claim for Universal Credit.  The extra help includes:

  • From January 2018 extending the repayment of Universal Credit advances from 6 to 12 months, and allowing people to receive 100% of their payment upfront.
  • From February 2018 the 7 waiting day period at the start of a Universal Credit claim will be removed, this means that the wait for a first payment will be reduced to between 5 and 6 weeks.
  • Making it easier for claimants to continue having their housing costs paid directly to landlords once they are on Universal Credit


You can apply for Universal Credit online


To get more information and advice about claiming Universal Credit please visit https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit or watch the Universal Credit YouTube videos.

There’s extra help and support available for those who need it as Universal Credit is fully rolled out across Cornwall from December 2017.

If you know someone who needs help or advice because of the change to Universal Credit, they can get it here:

  • Universal Credit website - to apply online and for more information about Universal Credit, including advance and hardship payments and alternative payment arrangements.
  • For advice on managing money and living within a monthly budget you can visit the Money Advice Service. If you would like to talk to someone about managing your money when you claim Universal Credit you can telephone us on 0300 1234 121, option 5.
  • Cornwall Council benefits - to find out about applying for Council Tax Support and discretionary housing payments.
  • For help getting online or making a new claim for Universal Credit ring Cornwall Council on 0300 1234 121, option 5.  Work coaches at Jobcentres can also provide advice about local IT training opportunities.
  • Cornwall Housing – help and advice for Council tenants.  Most other social landlords provide similar support for their tenants