Disability Rights UK Factsheet F55

1. What is universal credit?

Universal credit is a new means-tested benefit that will eventually replace the following current means-tested benefits:

  • child tax credit;
  • housing benefit;
  • income-related employment and support allowance;
  • income-based jobseeker’s allowance;
  • income support; and
  • working tax credit

Other benefits (eg personal independence payment) will remain largely unchanged by the new system.

Universal credit does not depend on your national insurance contributions and is not taxable. You can claim universal credit if you are unable to work because of ill health or disability, if you are caring for someone, if you are looking for work or if you are working and your wages are low. You can claim it to cover just your needs if you are single, or those of your partner and/or children if you have a family.

Universal credit is being phased in over time (see section 10 below) and the current benefits will not disappear for some years.

Universal credit may entitle you to budgeting advances, free prescriptions and dental treatment, housing grants, free school meals and help with hospital fares. For more information, see the Disability Rights Handbook.