What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a means tested benefit that is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions. It replaces the following in-and-out of work benefits (commonly referred to as legacy benefits) for working-age applicants:

Legacy Benefits:

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

From 11th October 2017, if you live in Sefton, it will no longer be possible to claim any of the above ‘legacy benefits’ unless:

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*.

If you are part of a couple and only one of you have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit you have the choice:

  • the person who has reached Pension Credit age (the older person of the couple) can make a claim for Housing Benefit for the both of you; or
  • the person who has not yet reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit (the younger person in the couple) can make a claim for Universal Credit, for both of you.

However, 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. This qualifying age has been gradually increasing since 2010 and will be 65 for both men and women by November 2018.

**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.

To see when you (or your partner if you have one) reach(ed) the qualifying age for Pension Credit, please use the Pension Age Calculator in the 'Related links' area of this page.

If you have more than 2 dependent children* who are still in full time further education, you cannot currently make a claim for Universal Credit, unless you have received Universal Credit within the last 6 months.  As such you must claim Housing Benefit for help with your rent instead.

You may also be able to claim Child Tax Credits for your children and / or other Department for Work and Pensions benefits (e.g. Income Support / Income based Jobseekers Allowance / Income-related Employment and Support Allowance), for you or your partner (if you have one) if you meet the qualifying conditions for those benefits.

*A dependent child is classed as a person under the age of 20 who is still in full time non advanced education, for whom child benefit is paid to you or your partner.

If you need assistance in determining whether you fall into this category, you should contact the council straight away for further advice and guidance.

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 2 – 3 hours per week.

All customers in receipt of Universal Credit still need to claim Council Tax Reduction for help toward paying their Council Tax. You can apply Council Tax Reduction in the 'Do it online' section of this page.


Last Updated on 11 October 2017