Universal Credit helps people on a low income or not in work meet their living costs. It combines six benefits into a single monthly payment. These are:
- Housing Benefit
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Income Support.
Updated 30 Jan 2020
- Step 1: Find out if you qualify for Universal Credit
If you're not sure whether you qualify for Universal Credit, you can:
Go to a reliable website to find out more about benefits and tax credits and whether you qualify.
Citizens Advice has extensive information online about Universal Credit including eligibility, how to claim, payment problems, and sanctions, which you can find in the Universal Credit section of the national Citizens Advice website.
The Government website also has a section on How to claim universal credit: step by step on GOV.UK.
If you think you need a bit more one to one help, visit one of our local centres in person and talk to a trained Citizens Advice adviser. Local Citizens Advice advisers can help you work out if you qualify for Universal credit, would be better off claiming Universal Credit and if there are any other benefits you may be eligible for such as Council Tax Reduction or Disability Benefits.
- Step 2: Find out where you can get help in Cambridge
Help to Claim in Cambridge
Our 'Help to Claim' service is free, independent and confidential. Our trained advisers can help you gather evidence for your application or prepare for your work coach appointment. You can visit us in person or contact us by phone.
- Visit us at our main office in Cambridge or one of our outreach centres. If you’re eligible for Universal Credit, you’ll usually have to apply online. In our main office, we can provide you with a computer that you can use to apply and check your account. However, under Universal Credit rules, you must complete the application form by yourself and your details must not be input by anyone else.
- Call us for free: 0800 144 8444
- Talk to one of our advisers at the Cambridge Job Centre at Henry Giles House on Chesterton Road every weekday. You can self-refer to us, or be referred by your Work Coach at the Job Centre or by the local council.
- Step 3: Find out about our online services
For online advice visit the national Citizens Advice Help to Claim page at any time.
Go to Online Chat
If you find it difficult to visit us in person to attend one of our drop-in sessions, you can try to access our services online. Chat is usually available from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. It's not available on public holidays. If no advisers are available, the chat box (see the image to the left) won’t appear. You can also see from this image that you will be asked to enter your name and postcode so that you will be connected to the right adviser.
To chat to a trained adviser online about your Universal Credit application please go to:
- Step 4: What you will need to do before you begin your application
Before you open a Universal Credit account you will probably need:
- an email address
- a mobile phone number
- a bank, building society or credit union account.
If you apply for Universal Credit, payments are made in arrears once at the end of the month, rather than being paid every week, and will go straight into your bank account. This means you may need to set up your own standing orders for expenses like rent if it is paid directly to your landlord.
We also recommend that you have the following personal details handy before starting your application:
- photo ID
- rent cost (tenancy agreement)
- wages (payslips)
- family details.
This overview shows the service as of June 2017. Changes and additions will be made over time but the general service will remain the same.
- Step 5: What to bring on your first visit to talk to an adviser
When you visit us for help with your application, it's important that the adviser you speak to has as much information about your case as possible.
If you would like an adviser to check that you are receiving all the benefits and tax credits you're entitled to, bring the following information for everyone who lives in your home:
- dates of birth;
- if employed or self-employed - number of hours worked;
- gross income from employment for the last tax year - April 6 to April 5 - a P60 form will provide this, or if self employed, last year’s accounts;
- gross income for this year - payslips or estimate if self-employed;
- if you are currently receiving benefits, bring all the benefit award letters;
- child care costs - details of childcare provider and how much you pay;
- investment income - details of investments and latest interest payments. Bank statements may be the best way to show this;
- tenancy agreement or current mortgage repayment details;
- council tax bill.
If you haven't got everything that's shown, don't worry - bring as much as you can find that might be important.
The Data Protection Act 2018 controls how your personal information is used by all organisations, including charities, in the UK. Citizens Advice, therefore, has to follow strict rules when we collect personal information from you and use it on your behalf. You also have additional legal protection for more sensitive information, such as your ethnic background and religious beliefs. For that reason, please be aware of our Client Agreement which explains what you can expect from us and what we expect from you.
- Step 6: Challenge a benefit decision or get help if you've been sanctioned
If you want to challenge a decision made about a benefit, you need to make sure you follow the right procedure if you want to try and get the decision changed. The national Citizens Advice website has a section on Challenging a benefit decision - where to start.
You can also find out What to do if you've been sanctioned while on Universal Credit and you believe this to be unfair.
If you decide to deal with either of the above situations on your own, this can be quite complicated. The trained CAB advisers have an excellent record on helping claimants to challenge benefit decisions and can offer guidance on sanctions. They can also help you apply for hardship payments.
- Step 7: Find an answer to a question about Universal Credit
Looking for an answer to a question about Universal Credit?
Step 1: Go to our Benefits and Tax Credits page to see if your question is listed in our frequently asked questions (FAQ) list.
Step 2: If your question isn’t included in our FAQ section, please look at these websites. They may be able to answer your question.
- Citizens Advice - national Citizens Advice website
- Gov.uk - useful information provided about government services and your rights
- Advicenow - website providing information on rights and legal issues
- Turn2Us- source of benefit advice and help finding charitable grants
- DWP - government department responsible for benefits
Each link is to an external site. If you cannot read these pdf files, you may have to download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader
Step 3: If you are still unable to find the answer to your question, you can now email us via our web-based form below.
Go to Email for advice
Please give us as much information as possible, so that we may answer your question more quickly. We aim to respond within two working days.
PLEASE NOTE: We are only funded to help those who live or work in Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District.