After a series of delays lasting a number of years, Universal Credit has now been rolled out across the UK, but many people are still confused about eligibility.
The new benefit replaces six previous benefits referred to as legacy benefits. Any eligibility for these benefits will cease once you apply for Universal Credit. These benefits are job seeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, housing benefit, working tax credit, child tax credit, and income support.
There are some simple rules applying to Universal Credit which can be found at the government’s own site.
To begin with, you should be over 18 and under retirement age, or your partner should be under the retirement age. Once you both reach retirement age, any eligibility will cease. Some exceptions apply to 16- and 17-year-olds. You will also be unemployed or in low-paid work and live in the UK. The number of children you have will not affect eligibility but may impact on how much you receive.
There are savings limits of £16,000 applying to you or a couple that you are a part of. If you are unclear about your savings, it is important to seek independent financial advice. Many firms now use financial advisor software such as that provided by www.intelliflo.com and will be able to offer swift and accurate assessments and advice.
The savings buffer means many more people are eligible for the benefit and it is important to check whether this applies to you. Note, however, that your partner’s savings and income will be taken into consideration even if they do not qualify for the benefit.
Another aspect of the new benefit is how it applies to those studying full-time or on a training course. It is available if you have a partner already eligible for Universal Credit, or are responsible for a child. You can also claim if you are disabled and entitled to personal independence payment or disability living allowance. If you are under 21 and do not benefit from parental support and you’re studying for a Btech or A-levels, you may also qualify.
It is important to understand that you can undertake work for as many hours as you wish when in receipt of Universal Credit as the limits which applied under income support and working tax credits have now been removed.