Universal Credit frequently asked questions

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Yes. Note that the way your income is worked out depends on when you became self-employed.

For more detailed information visit - Self Employment and universal credit

Yes. If you are living in temporary or supported accommodation you will still need to claim housing benefit to help you pay your rent. But you must also claim universal credit for your day-to-day living costs.

If you need to report a change in your circumstances go to the Frequently Asked Questions on Ashfield District Council’s website for more information- Report a change of circumstances

No, you will have to make a separate claim for council tax support (CTS).

If you are not already getting CTS when you claim UC, you will need to make a separate application to Ashfield District Council. For more information please go to - Ashfield District Council - Council Tax Support

No, only the six benefits listed at the start. If you think you might be eligible for any of the following benefits you will need to apply for them separately:

  • carer's allowance
  • contribution-based jobseeker's allowance and employment and support allowance
  • personal independence payment (PIP)
  • child benefit
  • social fund
  • statutory sick pay
  • statutory maternity pay
  • maternity allowance
  • industrial injuries disablement allowance
  • bereavement benefits

Go online to - GOV.UK - Universal Credit

Step 1. Create an online account. You will need an email address. During this process you provide your personal details and evidence of your identity.

Step 2. Make an application for universal credit.

Once you have submitted your application you have to manage your claim yourself using a “journal”. This is an electronic method for you to exchange information with the DWP assessor and your work coach.

If you have a partner you will each be responsible for completing your own application. If you are the one who completes the application first, you will need to indicate you have a partner and ask for a “partner code”. When your partner later completes their UC application, they must put in this code to link the two applications together into a joint claim.

Once the accounts are linked you will be able to see some of each other’s information and “to do” list. Some things you can complete for each other, but other things you will need to do yourself.

Watch a video about universal credit and how to claim here:

You cannot complete the online application without an email account.

Once you have applied for universal credit you can use your online account to:

  • communicate with your work coach through the journal
  • record your work search or other things you’ve done to complete your claimant commitment
  • manage your “to do” list
  • see details of your claim
  • see payment information
  • report a change of circumstances
  • upload evidence: for example – childcare costs

IMPORTANT: You will no longer receive letters in the post. All communication about your claim will go through your online account, email or text messages.

Yes, you must book an appointment to see a work coach at the same time you submit your claim. If you don’t book this appointment straight away it will delay your payments.

There are two stages:

1. You provide proof of your ID and other documents.

2. You see a work coach who will talk to you about your circumstances. You will have to sign a claimant commitment. This is a bit like a contract: it lists things that you agree to do to try to get into work. For example: write a CV or go on training courses.


  • Your claim will not be paid until you sign the claimant commitment.
  • If you think you will not be able to find work due to your disabilities, illness or mental health problems, you must tell the work coach at this first appointment. This is to make sure your claimant commitment contains only things that it will be reasonable for you to do.
  • If you don’t do this you may fail to meet the conditions you have agreed to in the claimant commitment. You could have your benefits stopped – “sanctioned” – later on.
  • If you do not attend the appointment your claim will not be paid.
  • If you have a partner both you and your partner will have to attend your own appointment and agree to your own personal claimant commitment.

You should report a change in circumstance immediately through your journal. You must do it within 14 days of the change or you could lose entitlement to additional benefit.

If you do not have access to the internet, you can use computers free of charge at the council offices in Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

Free to use computers are available at other locations in Ashfield, please see a list of places you can go

A claim for single people takes about 40 minutes and an hour for a couple. If you need to check something you can save your application mid-way through.

If you need help with your claim for Universal Credit then you can contact Citizens Advice “Help to Claim” Service National Helpline - 0800 144 8 444 - Advisers are available 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk/helptoclaim/

You can also get help online to help you to develop your computer skills. Some websites can offer help with free courses on using a computer, browsing the web, sending an email and finding work online. You can also view guidance on how to make a claim for Universal Credit online.

You can get help from a website called www.learnmyway.com. You can also go to this website by clicking on this link: Learn My Way

Yes, but don’t delay as your payments will usually only start from the date the application is made.

If you cannot complete the online universal credit application form yourself, and are unable to find support to help, you can visit one the Jobcentre Plus offices in Kirkby in Ashfield where you will be offered support to make your claim. You can also contact Citizens Advice for help with your Universal Credit claim.

If you are housebound, you can phone the UC helpline to make an application over the telephone or arrange a home visit: 0800 328 5644 – open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, (closed on bank and public holidays).

You will receive your first universal credit payment about five weeks after you apply, as long as you have attended your appointment, signed your claimant commitment(s) and provided all the documents and evidence that have been requested.

You need to think about how you will manage without payments during this assessment period.

If you think you will have difficulties because you have no savings, discuss this with your work coach at your first appointment. They will explain the options and where to get help to budget during this waiting time.

UC is paid once a month directly into your bank account. If you need a different payment arrangement for a particular reason, discuss this with your work coach.

Yes, you can ask for an advance payment of your UC if you are in financial hardship: for example, if you can’t afford to pay your rent or buy food.

This is a loan which you will have to pay back from your future universal credit payments or by other means if you no longer get universal credit: for example, from your wages or other benefit you may be getting.

You can ask for a universal credit advance:

  • as soon as you make your claim for universal credit
  • before you get your first payment, or
  • if you are already being paid universal credit and have told the DWP of a change in your circumstances which will eventually lead to a higher payment.

Call the universal credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 or speak to your work coach. If you have a joint claim for universal credit the helpline adviser will need to speak to both you and your partner.

You will need to:

  • provide your bank details so that the adviser can arrange payment if the advance is agreed
  • have had your identity checked

The DWP will usually let you know on the same day if you can get an advance.

You may be able to get up to 100% of your estimated universal credit payment. The amount will include your estimated housing element if you submit your rent details when you apply for the advance.

To repay the advance, the DWP makes deductions from your monthly universal credit payment. The first deduction is made on the day you get your first payment and you will have up to 12 months to pay back the full advance.

You can ask for your repayments to be delayed for up to three months if you can’t afford them. This is only allowed in exceptional circumstances.

You should phone Citizens Advice on 03444 111 444 for help and advice.

Yes, you can only receive your universal credit payment directly in to your bank. Many banks offer basic bank accounts and it is easy to open one. If you need help phone Citizens Advice on 03444 111 444.

Yes. At your appointment with your work coach you can ask for an ‘alternative payment arrangement’ (APA). You can ask for one or more of the following:

  • your housing element to be paid directly to your landlord
  • split payments to be made to both to you and your partner if you have one
  • more frequent payment: for example, every two weeks instead of monthly payments

Note: if changes are agreed this is only short term and will be reviewed regularly.

Yes, in some circumstances.

  • If your tenant already has their housing benefits paid directly to you from Ashfield District Council, this arrangement will continue when they move to UC.
  • If a tenant falls into arrears you can provide evidence to the DWP and ask for the UC housing element to be paid to you.
  • You can apply online for an alternative payment arrangement (APA) managed payment to landlord. For more information go to - Universal Credit: Landlord request for a managed payment or rent arrears deduction
  • Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Firstly check that the UC housing element has been calculated on your correct level of rent – and what period it covers.

If there is still a shortfall it could be because the accommodation is too large for you, or the maximum allowable will not pay your full rent, or you have grown up children living with you and the DWP has made a deduction because your children should be contributing to your household.

If you do have a shortfall between the rent you pay and the housing allowance paid through universal credit, you may be able to get some additional help from Ashfield District Council by applying for a discretionary housing payment (DHP). These payments can be awarded for short periods while you find solutions to manage the shortfall.

To apply please complete the online DHP form - Click here to download a discretionary housing application form

Or you can telephone Ashfield District Council Customer Services on 01623 457400 or visit one of the offices in Kirkby, Sutton or Hucknall to pick up an application form.

Yes, you may be able to claim back up to 85% of your childcare costs. You (and your partner if you have one) will usually need to be working (it doesn’t matter how many hours), or have a job offer.

The most you can get back each month is £646 for one child or £1108 for two or more children.

For more information about childcare costs when claiming UC visit:- Universal Credit - Help with childcare costs

If you have an annual net earned income of less than £7,400, your children will qualify for free school meals.

For more information and to apply go to http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/education/school-meals/free-school-meals-and-milk

Or call Nottinghamshire County Council on 0300 500 80 80. You must have your national insurance number when you call.

Yes, if you are getting universal credit you may get help with NHS costs like prescriptions, dental treatment, and eye care.

To find out if you are eligible go to nhs.uk and search for ‘low income scheme.


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