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Universal Credit

Universal Credit

From June 2018 all of County Durham will have full service Universal Credit.

What is Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a new single payment introduced by the government for people who are looking for work or on a low income. It replaces a number of other benefits. the government call 'legacy benefits' including:

  • Housing Benefit                                                    
  • Income-based Job-Seekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

Universal Credit payments are paid directly to you into your bank account each month. It usually takes around six weeks before the first payment of Universal Credit is received.

If you are due for help with your rent, your payment will include a “Housing Costs Element”. You are responsible for using this money to pay your rent to your landlord. The easiest way to do this is to set up a direct debit or standing order, which will automatically transfer your rental payment on a set date each month. You can do this here 

Will I be affected?

If you live in County Durham you will claim Universal Credit if you:

  •          Are a new benefit claimant or
  •          Currently claim any legacy benefits (the benefits listed above) and have a change in circumstances.

There are lots of different changes of circumstances that might mean you need to claim Universal Credit. Some of these could be:

  •          A partner leaving / joining the household
  •          A change in your hours of work
  •          Claiming for help with rent for the first time

If you already receive one of the benefits that Universal Credit is due to replace, and you have no changes in circumstances, continue as normal until the Department for Work and Pensions tell you that you need to claim Universal Credit instead.

You can ring the Universal Credit helpline for more information on 0800 3289344 or click here

Who is excluded from Universal Credit?

If you are of pensionable age you cannot usually claim Universal Credit and will continue to receive your benefits in the normal way. 

What do I need to do?

You are normally expected to claim Universal Credit through the government website here 

You can find local organisations who can help you get online or apply for Universal Credit here 

To claim Universal Credit you must have a bank account so your benefit payments can be paid to you. You can only apply for Universal Credit online so you must have access to the internet and basic digital skills to complete your application form.

There are a number of things you can do now to start preparing for Universal Credit

If you are struggling to pay your rent please let us know - our Financial Wellbeing Advisers will work with you to help you get back on track. If you need benefits or debt advice our staff will assist you with this.

Before You Apply Checklist

You can make claiming Universal Credit quicker and easier by having all the information you will need ready beforehand. This should include:

  •          Your postcode
  •          You and your partner’s national insurance numbers
  •          A breakdown of your rent charges: Contact Livin for an up to date statement of charges
  •          Livin’s contact details
  •          Child benefit reference numbers for each child, if you get this
  •          How much you pay for childcare (if you want to claim for childcare costs)
  •          Details of your bank, building society or credit union account where you want Universal Credit to be paid
  •          Your monthly wages if you are working
  •          Details of any benefits or other income you have
  •          Details of any savings
  •          Your email address and mobile phone number
  •          Details of any children / relatives / friends who live with you - including their name, date of birth, age and income

Useful Organisations

Durham County Council

Durham County Council Welfare Rights


If you would like help with any aspect of Universal Credit please speak to one of our Financial Wellbeing Advisors on 0800 587 4538 or email

Citizens Advice County Durham 


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