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How does Universal Credit work?

Universal Credit works differently to the current system of benefits. Understanding how Universal Credit works will help you to manage your new benefit.

Who can claim Universal Credit? 

Universal Credit is not just for people who are looking for work. You may be able to get Universal Credit in many different circumstances including:

  • if you are working and have a low income
  • if you are unable to work because of ill health or disability
  • if you are unable to work because you are caring for someone with a disability
  • if you are responsible for dependent children

It is advisable to seek advice before making a claim for Universal Credit. Contact the Advice Shop on 01506 283000 or fill in an online referral form for an advisor to call you back to discuss whether Universal Credit is right for you. 

How is Universal Credit paid? 

Universal Credit will be paid monthly into your bank account. It is designed to work like a monthly wage, so it is usually paid as a lump sum and you will have to manage your money across the whole month to pay your rent, bills and other living costs. 

How much you receive will depend on your circumstances and income during your fixed monthly assessment period, so the amount you get could be different each month. 


Everyone who claims Universal Credit needs to accept a 'claimant commitment'. This will set out what sort of work related activity you are expected to do in order to receive your Universal Credit payment. The claimant commitment is an individual agreement tailored to your specific circumstances. 

It is important that you make your work coach aware of any circumstances that might affect your ability to look for work. If you don't keep to the terms of your agreement, you may be sanctioned which will result in your Universal Credit being reduced or even stopped altogether.