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.

If you have more than two dependent children
From 1 February 2019, Universal Credit will not include an additional payment for a third or subsequent child unless they were born before 6 April 2017.

Claimants with responsibility for children born before this date will receive an additional amount.

For further details, please visit GOV.UK Universal Credit: support for a maximum of two children: information for claimants

Who can claim Housing Benefit instead of Universal Credit?

Anyone claiming Housing Benefits rather than Universal Credit for help with their rent will continue to claim Housing Benefit until they have a change in circumstances which triggers a migration to Universal Credit. This could be a move into employment or a partner entering or leaving the household.

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

However since 15 May 2019, pensioners with a partner under state retirement age are no longer able to make a new claim for Pension Credit. A joint claim should instead be made for Universal Credit.

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. Visit GOV.UK Check your State Pension for details. From 2019, the State Pension Age will increase for both men and women to reach 66 by October 2020.
 
**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 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 could 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. 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.

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.

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.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.

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.

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.

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. 

Citizens Advice Knowsley provides “Help to Claim” to people making a new claim for Universal Credit.  Support will be provided up until the first Universal Credit payment is received and will include:-

  • Universal Credit entitlement checks and support to start a claim
  • Set up email and online Universal Credit accounts
  • Verify identity (using the Department for Work and Pensions “Verify” system)
  • Refer on to longer term support (for example, debt and housing); and;
  • Help to apply for ‘adaptions and easements’ (including direct payments to landlords, more frequent payments and Advance Payments)

Referrals to the “Help to Claim” service can be made direct by the claimant, who can ‘self-refer’, as well as by the Jobcentre, Local Authority, Housing Providers and other agencies.
 
To access the service, residents need to telephone 0800 1448 444 to arrange an appointment at a local Citizens Advice office. This number is free from landlines and mobiles. Referrals to the service can also be made by the Jobcentre, Council, Housing Providers such as KHT and ForHousing (Villages) and other agencies. For more information, go to the Citizens Advice Knowsley website which includes links to webchat.

How to get 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.

Knowsley FACE (Family and Community Education) offer digital drop-in courses across Knowsley. 
 

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

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

There is no need to book but check One Stop Shop opening hours here.

If you need support to make a claim, contact ‘Help to Claim’ run by Citizens Advice Knowsley. This is open to everyone making a new claim for Universal Credit. Support will be provided up until the first Universal Credit payment is received and will include:-
 

  • Universal Credit entitlement checks and support to start a claim
  • Set up email and online Universal Credit accounts
  • Verify identity (using the Department for Work and Pensions “Verify” system)
  • Refer on to longer term support (for example, debt and housing)
  • Help to apply for ‘adaptions and easements’ (including direct payments to Landlords, more frequent payments and Advance Payments)

Referrals to the “Help to Claim” service can be made direct by the claimant, who can ‘self-refer’, as well as by the Jobcentre, Local Authority, Housing Providers and other agencies.
 
To access the service, residents need to telephone 0800 144 8 444 to arrange an appointment at a local Citizens Advice office.  This number is free from landlines and mobiles.  Referrals to the service can also be made by the Jobcentre, council, Housing Providers such as KHT and ForHousing (Villages) and other agencies. For more information, go to the Citizens Advice Knowsley website which includes links to webchat.
 

Access to computers and free Wi-Fi

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

Local advice and support
 


Open to all
 
Citizens Advice Knowsley Huyton – open for drop in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 9am – 3pm
Thursday 9am – 2.30pm drop in for money advice only
 
Kirkby – open for drop in Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 9am – 3pm
Tuesday drop in for money advice only
 
Halewood – appointments only Monday to Thursday. Call the appointment line on 0151 294 4081
 
Call Adviceline for telephone advice 0300 330 9008 or visit their website
27 Cavendish Walk, Huyton, L36 9YG
 
142 Cherryfield drive, Kirkby, L32 8RX
 
Halewood Centre, Roseheath Drive, Halewood, L26 9UH
Prescot and Whiston Community Advice Centre
Drop in Monday – Friday 9.15am – 1pm Prescot Centre, Eccleston Street, Prescot L34 5GA
 
Telephone 0151 443 4639
TESS – anyone in rented accommodation Based in ForHousing (Villages) but open to all.
 
Includes benefit checks and claims, budgeting and debt advice.
16 The Croft, Stockbridge Village, L28 1NR.
 
0300 123 55 22.
 

With restrictions
Age UK Mid Mersey Benefits advice and help to claim for residents aged 65 and over.

Face-to-face appointments and telephone advice available Mondays and Tuesdays.

Call 0151 559 3065 and leave a message if required
Roby Community Centre
Merton Crescent,
Huyton,
L36 4LD
Centre 63
For 16-30 year-olds. Covers housing, debt and welfare benefits including Universal Credit.
 
Outreach in Our Place, Huyton on Mondays and Tuesdays
Old Hall Lane, Kirkby L32 5TH.
 
Call 0151 549 1494 or visit their website.
Knowsley Housing Trust KHT tenants only.
By appointment only, available Mon – Friday
Available across the borough.
 
Call 0151 290 7000 or email imxreferrals@firstark.com.
TASC (Tailored Advice Services in Communities)  For Northwood residents only.
 
Drop in Weds 1.30pm-4pm and Thurs 10am-1.30pm.
Performance Studios, 11 Lifton Rd, Kirkby.
 
Call 0151 548 4924 or email tascommunities@outlook.com
 

National money advice and support

Money advice is also available online or by telephone through a number of national organisations. Again, the advice is confidential and free.

Turn2uswww.turn2us.org.uk
 
Free confidential information and advice on benefits, grants and managing your money, with an online benefits calculator to work out what you could claim. Visit their website or, if you don’t have access to the internet call 0808 802 2000.
 
Money Advice Servicewww.moneyadviceservice.org.uk
Free, clear and unbiased advice to help you manage your money. Visit their website or call 0800 138 7777 to speak with a trained advisor.

Debt Support Trustwww.debtsupporttrust.org.uk
 
Online or telephone debt advice.  Use their ‘debt analyser’ tool to work out where your money goes and which solution might be best.

Stepchange - www.stepchange.org
 
Free online and telephone advice can give you your options. Visit the website or call 0800 138 1111.
 
National Debtlinewww.nationaldebtline.co.uk
 
Free, confidential and independent advice on dealing with debt problems. Visit their website or call 0808 808 4000 for more information.

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 five or six 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 build digital skills

Knowsley FACE, the council’s adult and community education service, can help residents who want to built or develop digital skills.

For further details see the ‘how to get online,section above or download a leaflet.

Help with managing your money

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 ForHousing (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:

  • Contact ‘Help to Claim’ from Citizens Advice Knowsley for support to make your claim and to the first payment .  Contact them on 0800 144 8 444 to arrange an appointment at a local Citizens Advice office
  • 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.

United Utilities - help with water bills for those on Universal Credit


If you are applying for Universal Credit, United Utilities can help with your water bill by delaying your water bill payments until your first Universal Credit payment arrives. They will also check if they can reduce your bill by switching you to one of their support tariffs.

Follow this link to get free independent advice from United Utilities.

Useful DWP websites