Universal Credit

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a new type of benefit for working-age people who are on a low income or out of work. It is paid by the Department for Work and Pensions and is replacing the following six existing benefits and tax credits (referred to as ‘legacy’ benefits) with a single monthly payment:

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

To find out more, visit Understanding Universal Credit

Please note: Council Tax Reduction is not being replaced by Universal Credit so you will need to apply for this separately. 

Roll-out of Universal Credit Full Service in Knowsley

Universal Credit has been rolled out on a postcode basis across the country and is now available in all parts of Knowsley.
 

 Postcode  
Job Centre Plus office
 
L10, L32, L33 Kirkby
L14, L28, L34, L35 1,2,3,5 and 7, L36 Huyton
L25, L26, L16 Belle Vale
L35 4,8 and 9 St Helens

Who can claim?

Most working age Knowsley adults will claim Universal Credit Full Service instead of ‘legacy’ benefits (those being replaced by Universal Credit) but there are some exceptions.

Check if you are eligible by using the Universal Credit Eligibility Checker.

You might move to Universal Credit if you have a change in circumstances which affects your benefits.  This could be if you start or finish work, if your working hours change or if a partner moves in or out of your household.

There are some people who will still claim Housing Benefit if they need help with their rent, including:

Pensioners
If you are a couple and only one of you is pensionable age, you can choose to claim either Housing Benefit as a pensioner couple, or Universal Credit as working age couple. 

People with three or more dependent children
At the moment, if you have three or more dependent children you cannot make a claim for Universal Credit, unless you have been receiving Universal Credit within the last six months and have to make a reclaim.  You will need to claim Housing Benefit for help with your rent payments and any other legacy benefit for your household circumstances. 

Who can claim Housing Benefit instead of Universal Credit?


Anyone who is already claiming Housing Benefit, rather than Universal Credit for help with their rent will continue to claim Housing Benefit, until such time as they have change in their circumstances which triggers a migration to Universal Credit.

You can only make a new claim for Housing Benefit if you fall into one or more of categories one to four below.

You are a pensioner

If you are single you are classed as a pensioner once you have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit*.
 
If you are part of a couple**, you are classed as a pensioner if you have both reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit*.
 
If you are part of a couple and only one of you have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit you have the choice:

  • The person who has reached Pension Credit age (the older person of the couple) can make a claim for Housing Benefit for the both of you; or
  • The person who has not yet reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit (the younger person in the couple) can make a claim for Universal Credit, for both of you.

 
However, you cannot receive Housing Benefit and the Housing Cost element of Universal Credit for the same period.
 
*The qualifying age for pension Credit is linked to the date that a woman qualifies for her State Retirement Pension. This qualifying age has been gradually increasing since 2010 and will be 65 for both men and women by November 2018.
 
**You are part of a couple if you live with your partner.  A partner is someone you are married to or have a civil partnership with, or a person you live with as if you were their husband, wife or civil partner.

You have more than two dependent children


If you have more than two dependent children* who are still in full time further education, you cannot currently make a claim for Universal Credit, unless you have received Universal Credit within the last 6 months.  As such you must claim Housing Benefit for help with your rent instead.
 
You may also be able to claim Child Tax Credits for your children and / or other Department for Work and Pensions benefits (e.g. Income Support / Income based Jobseekers Allowance / Income-related Employment and Support Allowance), for you or your partner (if you have one) if you meet the qualifying conditions for those benefits.
 
*A dependent child is classed as a person under the age of 20 who is still in full time non advanced education, for whom child benefit is paid to you or your partner.
 
If you need assistance in determining whether you fall into this category, you should contact the council straight away for further advice and guidance.

You live in Specified Accommodation


Tenants of certain types of Supported Accommodation will receive help with their rent from Housing Benefit, rather than Universal Credit, even if they receive Universal Credit for their other living costs.
 
This provision is restricted to accommodation which is classified as 'Specified Accommodation'
 
Specified Accommodation includes the following: -

  • Domestic violence refuges
  • Homeless Hostels (but not self-contained properties)
  • Properties owned by either Housing Associations, registered charities or voluntary organisations and you require and receive support in your home which is more than minimal.

 
In most cases, if you live in supported housing, your landlord should be able to tell you whether or not your home is classed as 'Specified Accommodation' or not.

Alternatively, you can ring the council directly for further advice or guidance on this matter.
 
However, as a general rule, the following categories of tenants do not fall under the definition of 'Specified Accommodation':

  • Tenants of sheltered accommodation for over 50s
  • Tenants who receive low levels of support or floating support which amounts to less than two to three hours per week

What changes in my circumstances mean I move onto Universal Credit?

Move from being out of work to being in work


Current Income-based Jobseekers Allowance / Income Support claimants, or their partners, who start work or increase their working hours beyond a set threshold are no longer able to make a new claim for Working Tax Credit, as such, they need to make a new claim for Universal Credit instead. Those with an existing Tax Credit claim can continue to claim Tax Credit.

Move from in work to out of work


Current Working Tax Credit claimants whose hours reduce to less than 16 hours per week are no longer able to make a new claim to Income-based Jobseekers Allowance or Income Support and should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit.

Move from out of work to sick


Current Income-based Job Seekers Allowance / Income Support claimants are no longer able to make a new claim to Income-related Employment Support Allowance and should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit.

Move from sick to in work (or permitted work becomes permanent)


Current Income-related Employment Support Allowance claimants are no longer able to make a new claim to Tax Credits and should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit. Those with an existing Tax Credit claim can continue to claim Tax Credit.

Move from being unfit for work (sick) to being available for work


Current Income-related Employment Support Allowance claimants are no longer able to make a new claim to Income-based Jobseekers Allowance or Income Support so should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit.

Move from in work to sick (reduction in hours due to sickness)


Current Working Tax Credit claimants are no longer able to make a new claim to Income-related Employment Support Allowance and should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit.

Household becomes responsible for a child for the first time


Claimants are no longer able to make a new claim to Tax Credits and should be advised if they wish to claim for additional financial support because they have a child living with them to make an online claim to Universal Credit. Those with an existing Tax Credit claim can continue to claim Tax Credit.

Claimants separate


For example: Current joint Tax Credit claimants who separate are unable to make a new claim to Tax Credits as a single person. Claimants should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit if they continue to require additional financial support; if they have [a] child[ren] living with them or are on a low income.

Youngest child of lone parent on income support reaches five years old or permanently leaves household


Current Income Support claimants are no longer able to make a new claim to Income-based Jobseekers Allowance or Income-related Employment Support Allowance, when their award to Income Support ends they should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit.

Housing Benefit claimant moves from Local Authority into a Universal Credit Full Service area Local Authority


Existing Housing Benefit claimants who move into Knowsley are no longer able to make a new claim to Housing Benefit in Knowsley and should be advised if they wish to continue to obtain financial support with their rent to make an online claim to Universal Credit.

A carer on Income Support stops being entitled to Carers Allowance


Current Income Support claimants are no longer able to make a new claim to Income-based Jobseekers Allowance or Income-related Employment Support Allowance when their award to Income Support ends and should be advised to make an online claim to Universal Credit.

Stopping an existing claim when a claim to Universal Credit-Full Service is made


If a new claim to Universal Credit Full Service is made, and there is a current Income-based Jobseekers Allowance; Income-related Employment Support Allowance; Income Support; Housing Benefit or Tax Credits claim then Universal Credit Full Service will contact Benefit Centres/Local Authorities and/or H M Revenue & Customs to stop the existing claims.

Get ready for Universal Credit Full Service

Use the DWP’s Universal Credit Preparation Planner to see if you need to do anything before claiming Universal Credit. For example:-

  • Claims have to be made online so you’ll need an email address and digital skills.
  • You’ll need a bank, building society or credit union account for your Universal Credit payments to be paid into - the Money Advice Service website can help you choose the right account for your needs
  • You’ll need to be able to manage on a monthly budget.
  • Any help towards your rent will be included in your monthly Universal Credit payment – so you’ll need to make arrangements to pay your rent direct to your landlord yourself.

Claiming Universal Credit

You need to claim online and you’ll need to have certain information ready as you make your claim. Go to Universal Credit: How to claim to find out more and to make an application.
This video also explains how to apply. 

If you need help to complete your Universal Credit claim, call the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 328 9344.

How to get online, claim online and develop digital skills

Your local Job Centre can help you get online, use a computer and complete your online Universal Credit claim. There is no need to book an appointment but you might need to wait during busy periods.

If you need help to complete your claim, you can ring the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 328 9344.
Knowsley FACE (Family and Community Education) offer digital drop-in courses across Knowsley. They will work with you to provide assisted digital support as you complete your claim to help you build the digital skills that you need including:-

  • Using a computer or a tablet
  • Creating an email address
  • Setting up your online account
  • Making your claim
  • Uploading documents
  • Using the online Universal Credit journal
     

Ask your DWP Work Coach for a referral to assisted digital support, or call in to one of the free digital drop-in sessions provided by FACE (see below) or contact FACE directly on 0151 443 5389.
 

Area Day Time Venue
Stockbridge Monday 1pm – 3.30pm Stockbridge Village Hub, L28 3NR
Halewood Monday 10am – 12.30pm Halewood Library, L26 0TS
Huyton Tuesday 1pm – 3.30pm *Roby Community Hub, Merton Crescent, L36 4LD
Huyton Tuesday 10am – 12.30pm Huyton Library, L36 9GD
Huyton Wednesday 12.30pm – 3pm The Gate Community Centre, L14 9NQ
Halewood Wednesday 9.30am – 12pm New Hutte Neighbourhood Centre, L26 1TT
Huyton Wednesday 9.30am – 12pm **St John’s Information Zone, L36 0UB
Huyton Thursday 1pm – 3pm **St John’s Information Zone, L36 0UB
Huyton Thursday 10am – 12.30pm The Gate Community Centre, L14 9NQ
Prescot Thursday 10am – 12.30pm Prescot Library, L34 5GA
Kirkby Friday 10am – 12.30pm Kirkby Library, L32 8XY
Huyton Friday 1pm – 3.30pm *Bluebell Park Apartments, L36 7YB

*tablets only at Roby Community Centre and Bluebell Lane
*no Wi-Fi at St John's Information Zone

 

Help to get online and navigate the online claim

Digital Champions are based in each Knowsley Council One Stop Shop to help residents sign up to and use the Council’s digital services. Digital Champions can provide some basic support to Universal Credit claimants, including helping to:

  • Get online
  • Set up an email address
  • Navigate the claim form
  • Upload documents.

There is no need to book but check One Stop Shop opening hours here.
 
If you need in depth support to complete the claim or to develop computer and digital skills, ask your Work Coach to refer you for assisted digital support.

Access to computers and free Wi-Fi

If you can’t access a computer or get online at home to make and manage your claim for Universal Credit, you can use free computers and / or Wi-Fi in any of the following sites across Knowsley. 
 

Venue Address
 
Huyton  
Huyton Job Centre Edendale House, Lathom Road, Huyton L36 9XS
Huyton One Stop Shop Archway Road, Huyton L36 9YU
Huyton Library Civic Way, Huyton, L36 9GD
   
Kirkby  
Kirkby Job Centre St Chad's House, St Chad's Drive, Kirkby L32 8RW
Kirkby One Stop Shop Kirkby Centre, Norwich Way, Kirkby, L32 8XY
Kirkby Library 1st floor, Kirkby Centre, Norwich Way, Kirkby, L32 8XY
   
Halewood  
Halewood Library Halewood Centre, Roseheath Drive, L26 9UH
Halewood One Stop Shop Halewood Centre, Roseheath Drive, L26 9UH
Belle Vale Job Centre Crown Building, 302 Childwall Valley Road L25 2UF
   
Prescot  
Prescot One Stop Shop The Prescot Centre, Aspinall Street, Prescot, L34 5GA
Prescot Library The Prescot Centre, Aspinall Street, Prescot, L34 5GA
   
Stockbridge Village  
Stockbridge Library The Withens, Stockbridge Village, L28 1AB
 

To find places near you where you can ‘get online’ with access to computers, Wi-Fi and digital skills training, visit ‘My Neighbourhood’ on the Council’s website and add your postcode.
If you’re a Knowsley Housing Trust tenant, you can ask KHT for support. Visit the Universal Credit pages on their website at KHT.

Help to manage a monthly budget

Everyone claiming Universal Credit can access Personal Budgeting Support. This is confidential one-to-one financial advice tailored to your needs and circumstances.  This will cover:-

  • setting up a monthly budget,
  • how to reduce outgoings and make your money go further,
  • budgeting advice, and
  • different ways of paying bills.

You can ask for Personal Budgeting Support at any time through your DWP Work Coach. They will refer you to an experienced, independent advisor for an appointment.
 
If you think you’ll need help to get used to managing on a monthly budget, make sure you ask for Personal Budgeting Support – it really can make a difference!
 
Other local sources of free money advice include: 

 
Local Money Advice Services
Citizens Advice Knowsley Free confidential advice for all Knowsley residents including welfare benefits, debt and employment Call ‘Adviceline’ for telephone advice on 0344 826 9694, call into one of their centres in Kirkby, Huyton or Halewood.  Visit www.citizensadviceknowsley.org.uk
Prescot and Whiston Community Advice Centre Free and confidential welfare rights advice and support to claim.  Drop in Monday to Friday from 10am to 12.30 at the Prescot Centre, Prescot L34 5GA or telephone 0151 443 4639
Enterprise Credit Union Provides savings and loans for members.  Branches across Knowsley Visit www.enterprisecreditunion.org or telephone 0151 482 0177
Centre 63 For 16-25 year olds - advice covers housing, debts and welfare benefits Visit www.centre63.co.uk, telephone 0151 549 1494 or call in to Old Hall Lane, Kirkby L32 5TH
TASC (Tailored Advice in Communities) For Northwood residents only.  Advice on all money matters – debt, benefits, savings and budgeting Performance Studios, 11 Lifton Rd, Kirkby
Telephone 0151 548 4924 or email tascommunities@outlook.com
 

Many Registered Social Landlords, including KHT and Villages, offer money advice for their tenants. If you rent from a Social Landlord, get in touch with your local office to find out what support and advice they can give you.
 
Remember, Universal Credit includes any help you get towards your rent so you’ll need to make sure you pay your rent direct to your landlord yourself.
 
Money advice is also available online through the Money Advice Service, visit Money Manager for Universal Credit Claimants

Help available from the Department for Work and Pensions

You can find details of other help and support that the DWP can provide for people claiming Universal Credit on their website at Universal Credit: Other financial support. This includes:

  • Advance Payments – you will have to wait at least 5 or 6 weeks before you get your first Universal Credit payment.  You can ask for up to 100% of this to be paid in advance but you will have to pay it back from your future Universal Credit payments. 
  • Hardship Payments – you can ask for a hardship payment if you’ve had a benefit sanction.
  • Alternative Payment Arrangements – depending on your circumstances you can ask:-
  • For the money you get towards your rent to be paid directly to your landlord
  • To receive more frequent payments (instead of monthly)
  • To have the payment split between you and your partner (if you are claiming as a couple)

For any of these, contact your Work Coach at the Job Centre or call the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 328 5644.  Support is available at any point in your claim.

Help and support from Knowsley Council for those claiming Universal Credit

Help with your Council Tax bill

You may be able to get help from Knowsley Council towards your Council Tax bill when you claim Universal Credit. This is called Council Tax Reduction.

You should apply as soon as you claim Universal Credit as claims cannot be backdated. If you already had Council Tax Reduction in place when you made your claim for Universal Credit, you will need to reclaim this as soon as your Universal Credit claim has been made.

To make a claim for Council Tax Reduction, Knowsley residents should visit our Council Tax Reduction page.

You can upload your Universal Credit award decision from your online Universal Credit Journal. You will be told if you need to provide any further evidence.  

You cannot register to manage your Council Tax online until you are registered for Council Tax at your address. You can apply for Council Tax Reduction at the same time by visiting the Council Tax web pages.

Help to make an online Council Tax Reduction and Universal Credit claim

Knowsley Council offers ‘assisted digital support’ to all residents who want to claim or have claimed Universal Credit. This is provided by Knowsley FACE, the council’s adult and community education service.  

For further details see the ‘how to get online, claim online and develop digital skills’ section above or download a leaflet.

Help with managing your money

Universal Credit claimants have access to Personal Budgeting Support; this is confidential one-to-one financial advice tailored to their needs and circumstances.  

See help to manage on a budget for further detail.

Other free sources of money advice are available locally. More information is available on the Financial Advice and Support page.  

Many Registered Social Landlords, including KHT and Villages, offer money advice to their tenants. 

Support in a crisis

The council’s Emergency Support Scheme can provide food and / or fuel to residents in an emergency situation. Those who are able to get support from elsewhere, including from the Department for Work and Pensions, family and friends are expected to do so. Criteria apply.  

Help with housing costs

Discretionary Housing Payments offer short term help to residents with a shortfall between their Housing Benefit or Universal Credit payments and their rent.  This could help residents as they look for cheaper accommodation, sort out debts or negotiate a cheaper rent.  Residents can collect a form from any One Stop Shop, request one from the council’s Contact Centre on 0151 489 6000 or can download a copy from the Discretionary Housing Payments page.

Help with housing issues

Housing Options provides help and advice on a range of housing issues, including homelessness, finding a property to rent and advice to help resolve housing difficulties. Contact info@knowsleyhousingoptions.org.uk or call 0800 694 0280.

Help with school meal costs

Any child who was eligible through legacy benefits (those replaced by Universal Credit for example Income Support) will keep their entitlement until Universal Credit has been fully rolled out (currently 2022).  Protections mean that this will continue from 2022 until the child reaches the end of their phase of education (for example, primary or secondary).

If you receive Universal Credit and have an annual net earned income not exceeding £7,400 you can claim Free Meals. This is a confidential service and also helps your child’s school access to additional pupil premium funding. You can apply by downloading a form from the school meals page

Checklist for Universal Credit Claimants:

  • You’ll be offered ‘Personal Budgeting Support’ when you meet your Work Coach at the Jobcentre.  Say ‘yes’ for support tailored for you
  • Ask for an ‘Advance Payment’ to ease the change to monthly payments if this could cause you any difficulties
  • If you think an ‘Alternative Payment Arrangement’ is right for you, talk to your Work Coach or call the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 328 5644
  • Make sure you have payments set up with your landlord to pay your rent. If you’re not sure how to do this, get in touch with them straight away.  Delays could lead to arrears.  If your payments don’t cover all of your rent, you’ll need to make up the shortfall yourself
  • A claim for UC will automatically end any existing Council Tax Reduction you receive from Knowsley Council. You must make a separate new claim through Knowsley Council’s website, www.knowsley.gov.uk/ even if you were claiming Council Tax Reduction when you made your claim for Universal Credit
  • Paying housing costs (rent and Council Tax) is a priority. Your landlord can check you’re receiving the benefits you’re entitled to and help you manage debts. Keep in touch with them. If you’re concerned about paying your Council Tax, you can find information and advice here
  • Knowsley Housing Trust tenants should contact their landlord. Visit Knowsley Housing Trust’s Universal Credit Hub to find out more and get advice and support.

Other help and support

Details of other local and national services that might be able to help and support you can be found under our financial advice and support section of the website.

Useful DWP websites