The Government provides financial assistance to some people in the form of benefits.

In 2012, the Welfare Reform Act became law in the UK. It was passed to change the welfare system in the UK and “make work pay”.

A key example of change is that, since April 2013, Universal Credit has begun to gradually replace a number of key benefits for people of working age who are looking for work or are on a low income.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a benefit payment for people in or out of work.

It replaces some of the benefits and tax credits you might be getting now:

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

You can check out the official website where you can find out more about Universal Credit and sign up if you need the financial support. This is available for anyone living in the UK over the age of 18 and either on low income or out of work.

However, there are some exceptions for the age range. You can claim Universal Credit if you’re 16 or 17 if any of these situations apply to you:

  • you have limited capability for work or you have medical evidence and are waiting for a Work Capability Assessment
  • you’re caring for a severely disabled person
  • you’re responsible for a child
  • you’re in a couple with responsibility for at least one child and your partner is eligible for Universal Credit
  • you’re pregnant and it’s 11 weeks or less before your expected week of childbirth
  • you’ve had a child in the last 15 weeks
  • you do not have parental support, for example you’re estranged from your parents and you’re not under local authority care

If you claim, it will take at least a month to get the money. If you’re desperate, you can talk to someone in local Jobcentre Plus to discuss your options.

Making a new or Repeat Claim for Benefits

  • You can ring Jobcentre Plus to make a new benefit claim on 0800 055 6688 (English) or 0800 012 1888 (Welsh)
  • Phone lines are open from 8.00am to 6.00pm, Monday to Friday
  • You can claim online
  • Textphone: 0800 023 4888 if you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech difficulties
  • Calls are free from a landline. Charges may apply when calling from a mobile phone, but Jobcentre Plus will arrange to call you back if you ask

Here is a list of websites that can offer information, advice and guidance on benefits and what you may be entitled to.

Government – The best place to find government services and information.

Money Advice Service – Supporting people’s money management.

Citizens Advice – We give people the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward – whoever they are, and whatever their problem.