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The UK Government plans to introduce an universal credit from October 2013. It will replace six of the main means-tested benefits and tax credits.

Universal credit is intended to help people to become more independent. It should simplify the benefits system by paying a range of working-age benefits together as one single payment. It will be paid monthly, in arrears, to one person in the household.

Universal credit will replace:

  • income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • income support
  • child tax credits
  • working tax credits
  • housing benefit

Your housing benefit will no longer be paid directly to your landlord. Instead, it will be paid directly to you and you will have to budget and pay the rent to your landlord yourself.

How to claim Universal Credit

The UK Government expects 80% of claims for Universal Credit to be made and maintained online. This means that you must access the internet to make an online claim and provide a new-mail address for future communication. Changes of circumstances should also be reported by e-mail. If you don't have access to the internet at home you can access it at your local library or at the job centre -and there are many free courses to show you how. You will be notified nearer the time the details of where and when you can make your claim online.

Are Pensioners affected?

Universal Credit will NOT replace Pension Credit. However, when Universal Credit is introduced, if either member in a couple is under the qualifying age for Pension Credit then the couple will be treated as 'working age' and expected to claim Universal Credit.

Due to the abolition of Housing Benefit, the Department for Work and Pensions is updating Pension Credit to enable pensioners to claim for their housing costs (including rent) as part of their Pension Credit claim. More information is available on the Department for Work and Pensions Welfare Reforms website.