Universal Credit and welfare benefits FAQs

Do you have a question about Universal Credit, welfare benefit claims or what to do if you've lost your job? Our expert team has compiled a list of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and the answers you need.

I am worried about getting into debt with my bills. Who should I pay first?
 

You should pay your rent first as rent is always a priority. You should continue to pay your rent as normal.  We understand some tenants may have their income reduced because of a change in their circumstances. If this is the case, please make sure you contact your Housing Officer as soon as possible, who can refer you to a benefit advisor.

I have lost my job with no income. What help can I get?
 

You may be able to claim New Style Jobseeker's Allowance by applying online, by calling 0800 055 6688. You may also claim New Style Employment and Support Allowance (if you have a health problem) by calling 0800 328 5644 (choose option 2). These new style benefits are based on the National Insurance you have paid.

If you do not qualify for any of the above or have housing costs you may be entitled to Universal Credit.

You may also be entitled to Council Tax Reduction.

Am I entitled to Statutory Sick Pay?
 

Statutory Sick Pay is available from day one if you are affected by Coronavirus.

Should I claim Universal Credit?
 

This will depend on your individual circumstances. Please speak to your Housing Officer for advice. Full government advice can be found on: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/

If you do not qualify for Universal Credit, you may be able to claim New Style Jobseeker's Allowance by applying online at https://www.apply-for-new-style-jsa.service.gov.uk, by calling 0800 055 6688. You may also claim New Style Employment and Support Allowance (if you have a health problem) by calling 0800 328 5644 (choose option 2). These new style benefits are based on the National Insurance you have paid.

You may also be able to claim for a reduction in your Council Tax, please speak to your Housing Officer.

I need to claim Universal Credit – who can help me with this?
 

Universal Credit is claimed online. If you need additional help speak to your Housing Officer.

How will the DWP verify my identification? 
 

Where possible ID verification will be done online as part of the Universal Credit application process. If this cannot be completed online, the DWP will verify your ID over the phone, where possible, using biometric questions. Due to the volumes of claims being made you will encounter significant waiting times accessing the service.

I am not currently on Universal Credit but my wages have dropped due to being absent from work. What should I do?
 

It depends on your individual circumstances. Please speak to your Housing Officer if you need advice.

I’m on Working Tax Credit and have been temporarily laid off from work – what should I do?
 

If you are temporarily laid off from work, you can continue to get Working Tax Credit for four weeks, and then a four-week run on after that. Please speak to your Housing Officer for further advice.

Will my benefit payments continue?
 

Benefit payments will continue to be paid as normal and the DWP is focusing on ensuring all customers are paid. If you are on Universal Credit, you will need to ensure you are completing any 'To-Do’s' and responding to Journal messages online. You must also ensure you action the 'update Housing Costs To-Do' that will appear on your online account in the first week of April.

How do I get in touch with the Universal Credit department?
 

Once you can sign in to your Universal Credit online account you can use your online account to get in touch with the Department for Work and Pensions. You can also contact them by phone on 0800 328 5644 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

How do I access an advance?
 

You can apply for an advance through your online Universal Credit account or through the UC helpline. Remember, this will include money to cover your housing costs, which you need to pay to us for your rent.

Do I need to attend Jobcentre appointments?
 

Yes, if you are invited to attend you must do so. If there is any reason why you cannot- inform your job coach as soon as possible or you could be sanctioned.

Are Jobcentres open?
 

Yes, but it is by appointment only. Customers who attend are asked to wear a mask and comply with social distancing rules.

Do I need a 'Fit Note' to claim Universal Credit when I have Coronavirus?
 

. From 26 January 2022, you will need to provide a fit note.

Is my Universal Credit going to increase?
 

From 11 April 2022, Universal Credit will increase as part of the planned annual uprating in benefits.

Do I need to keep looking for work?
 

Yes, it is essential that you comply with what you agreed in your claimant commitment. If you have had a change in your circumstance and the agreement is no longer achievable talk to your Work Coach and ask if it can be revised.

Will I need to attend a face-to-face medical assessment?
 

You may be asked to attend a face to face assessment, however many are still being done remotely. If you have any COVID symptoms do not attend but contact the Medical Assessment Centre to advise them.

I am on partial Housing Benefit due to my earnings, but my income has reduced/stopped. How do I make up the difference to pay my rent?
 

Contact your local council’s Housing Benefit team and advise them of your change in circumstances. They should also have a change of circumstances online form for you to complete. Your entitlement to Housing Benefit will then be amended to reflect your change in income. If your income reduces, your entitlement to Housing Benefit will usually increase. Your Housing Officer can assist with this, please get in touch.