Managing your money on Universal Credit

Universal Credit replaces the following legacy benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

Moving to Universal Credit

Universal Credit has been rolled out across the UK for:

  • new claimants
  • and people who must make a new claim due to a change in circumstances

There are exceptions to this. Check if you're eligible for Universal Credit (Citizens Advice)

If you are receiving a legacy benefit and do not have a change in circumstances, you do not need to do anything until the DWP contacts you about moving to Universal Credit.

If you do have to claim Universal Credit you will have to wait at least 5 weeks for your first payment.

Here are some ideas to help your money last while you wait:


It’s important to budget so that you can pay important bills. You should prioritise the following:

  • rent or mortgage – to avoid losing your home
  • council tax and court fines – you could go to prison if you do not pay
  • energy bills – it's important to stay warm

Change in circumstances

You must contact DWP if your situation changes. The DWP calls this a change in circumstances. Your claim could be reduced or stopped if you do not report this change immediately.

If your circumstances have not changed, you do not need to claim Universal Credit until DWP contacts you.

Universal Support

Help to Claim is a service run by Citizens Advice in England and Wales to support people through the process of applying for Universal Credit.

They will also help people to apply for an advance payment. This is paid as a loan and will be deducted from future payments. 

The Money Advice Service has a Money Manager for Universal Credit Payments.

Dealing with deductions

If you have an overpayment under the Universal Credit system, the DWP will take a monthly deduction from your Universal Credit.

Overpayments can happen because of:

  • incomplete information on your claim form
  • failure to mention a change in circumstances
  • an unpaid loan from the DWP
  • the late award of another benefit or income
  • a banking error
  • an official error
  • fraud

If you’ve been overpaid and cannot repay, seek benefits advice.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 13/12/2018

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