Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a means tested benefit for working age people. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) administers Universal Credit, which replaces the following 6 benefits:

  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

For more information about Universal Credit, visit GOV.UK.

How does Universal Credit affect me?

From 20 June 2018, the DWP will start introducing Universal Credit for large parts of Westminster. This means anyone needing to make a new claim for one of the 6 benefits listed above will instead have to apply for Universal Credit.


There are exceptions when Universal Credit will not be available. Households who qualify for the severe disability premium will carry on claiming the benefits that Universal Credit is replacing for the time being. There is also no change for pensioners because Universal Credit is a benefit for people of working age only.

The change means that if you pay rent you will claim the housing element of Universal Credit from DWP instead of Housing Benefit from the council. There are 2 exceptions to this. Tenants of supported housing and temporary accommodation provided because of homelessness will claim Universal Credit from DWP for their living cost and Housing Benefit from the council for their rent.


The roll out of Universal Credit will be gradual depending on the Jobcentre Plus office that deals with the postcode where you live. The timetable for when making a new claim will mean a claim for Universal Credit is:

Jobcentre Plus office Postcodes When
Fulham SW3, SW7 Already in place
City Tower EC4 Already in place
Marylebone NW1, NW8, SW1, W1, WC2, W2, W9 1 and W9 2  20 June 2018
Barnsbury WC1 20 June 2018
Harlesden NW6, W9 3 November 2018
North Kensington W10, W11 December 2018

If you are receiving one of the 6 benefits listed above and your circumstances have not changed, Universal Credit will generally not affect you for the time being. In July 2019, DWP will start piloting the process of moving people who do not have changes on to Universal Credit. The process is not expected to affect Westminster residents until the Autumn of 2020 and DWP expect it will take until the end of 2023 to transfer everyone of working age on to Universal Credit.

Key features of Universal Credit

DWP administers Universal Credit and their website provides detailed information about how Universal Credit is claimed, decided and awarded. But here is a summary of some of the key features of Universal Credit:

  • you claim online – this means you will need an email account
  • it takes 5 weeks to decide a claim – you can request an advance payment from DWP if this will cause hardship
  • payments are made monthly and you will need to have a bank, building society or Post Office account to receive them
  • you will receive a single monthly payment that will include an amount to live on and a housing element - you can ask DWP to pay the housing element to your landlord if this will cause you problems

Help and support from the council

Although the DWP deal with Universal Credit, the council is assisting with the implementation. The council will also carry on dealing with Council Tax Support and Discretionary Housing Payment applications and awards.

Assistance claiming Universal Credit

Your local Jobcentre Plus office will help you with claiming online. Help to claim is also available from the council at the 2 Housing Benefit offices below from 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Computers are available for you to use at these offices and there are members of staff on hand to help you.

Assistance with budgeting

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment to provide help with living costs and rent. Westminster Citizens Advice can provide money advice if you need help budgeting for all your outgoings from a single monthly payment. Ask Jobcentre Plus to refer your details if you would like help from Westminster Citizens Advice.

Extra Housing Benefit for 2 weeks

If you transfer from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit, the Council will award you Housing Benefit for the first 2 weeks of the period Universal Credit covers. This is to give extra help with rent because it takes 5 weeks to award Universal Credit.

Council Tax Support

To receive help with paying your Council Tax you will need to claim Council Tax Support from the council. Find out more information about Council Tax Support.

Discretionary Housing Payment

When either the housing element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit is less than the rent you have to pay, you can claim Discretionary Housing Payment from the Council. Find out more information about Discretionary Housing Payment.

Westminster Employment Service

Universal Credit makes it easier for people to move from benefits into work. We have coaches trained to support people into employment. Find out more information about our service or contact us at employmentteam@westminster.gov.uk, or on 0207 641 3460.

Last updated: 1 February 2019