Advice Column: Universal Credit

Monday 31 October

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column this week we focus on Universal Credit.


I have heard about a new benefit called Universal Credit. What is it and who does it effect?


Universal Credit rolls six working-age benefits into one single monthly payment, supporting people who are on a low income or out of work. It is being introduced in stages across the country, in the first instance to single people who are making new claims. It will eventually be rolled out to couples, families and people who are sick or disabled.


The most recent Government figures reveal that 332 people across Exeter are now on the benefit since it was introduced on the 9th November 2015. Most enquiries we have dealt with are about who is eligible for the benefit and requests for help with the application process.


The key things to know about Universal Credit are:


  1. It is a new benefit for people in and out of work, which will eventually merge six benefits into one: Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit. Currently you can still apply for ESA separately from Universal Credit.


  1. It does not include Council Tax Support – you will still need to apply for this locally.


  1. You apply via a single application; you’re usually expected to do this online, but you can apply over the phone by calling 0345 600 0723 or in person if you need to.


  1. It is paid on a monthly basis, rather than weekly or fortnightly like previous benefit.


  1. You can ask for an advance payment to help you get by while you’re waiting for your first payment. This is called a ‘short term advance’.


For more information and advice go to or telephone Citizens Advice Exeter on 03444 111 444.


Look out for our column next week when we focus on meeting the cost of Christmas.


The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit