Universal Credit

Universal Credit

This guide is an introduction to Universal Credit.

You can print or download this Universal Credit helpsheet [266 KB].

Universal Credit is a payment from the government which helps with living costs.  It covers:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

Am I entitled to claim?

To find out if you can claim Universal Credit, use the Citizens Advice eligibility checker.

You can also read the detailed guidance on eligibility on GOV.UK

How will I get paid?

Payments are made into a bank or building society account of your choice.  The first payment will take about five weeks from the date of the claim.  If you need help to pay bills during this time, you can apply for an advance on your first payment to cover the waiting period.

Working and claiming Universal Credit

There are no limits on how many hours a week you can work if you’re claiming Universal Credit.  Instead, the amount you get will gradually reduce as you earn more, so you won’t lose all your benefits at once.

How do I apply for Universal Credit?

You need to apply online at the Gov.uk website.

After you have applied, you need to contact your local Jobcentre Plus within seven days to make an appointment with a Work Coach.  You won’t get Universal Credit if you don’t attend the meeting.

You can find your local Jobcentre Plus online.

Your Claimant commitment

When you meet your Work Coach, you’ll be asked to make an agreement called a ‘Claimant Commitment’.

This means that you will have to complete certain tasks in order to receive your Universal Credit payments.

What you agree to do will depend on things such as your health, your responsibilities at home and how much help you need finding work.

Get help with your application

If you have not used a computer before, now would be a good time to learn.  There are free courses for beginners available online from LearnMyWay and many libraries in West Sussex have volunteers who offer support. See the Library Service’s Digital Support web page for details.

Where can I go for more help?

A free Universal Credit helpline is available for support Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm (closed on bank holidays).

Free Helpline: 0800 328 9344

Further help and guidance is available from these websites:


Free internet access is available in West Sussex Libraries.


This guide has been produced by West Sussex County Council Library Service © 2022.

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