For all the readers who are unaware of what Universal Credit is, it is a flagship project to bring in welfare reforms in the United Kingdom in the form of a social security payment for individuals who are already employed or retired. It essentially replaces some of the tax credits such as Housing Benefit, Income Support, Child Tax Credit, Income-based Allowance, Income-related Employment, Working Tax Credit and Support Allowance, making Universal Credit System a legacy benefit in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The process of applying for Universal Credit can be broadly divided into 4 steps namely:
- Gathering everything that is needed for the application
- Setting up an Online Account
- Using the aforementioned Online Account to start a claim
- Arranging for an interview at the nearby local Job Centre within a week of the start of the claim
STEP 1: Gathering everything that is needed for the application
Getting all the details that are required to fill the application for the Universal Credit comes in handy and saves you, a lot of your time. Get your partner’s details too if you are making a joint claim. The things required are as follows:
- National Insurance Number – you can easily fetch that from a payslip or from any letter received from the HM Revenue and Customs. Or you can simply dial 0300-200-3500 (Only Weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm) or fire a text at 0300-200-3519 to get your National Insurance Number from the National Insurance Helpline if you are unable to find it.
- Details about your Housing Situation -For this, you need the postcode, the amount of rent that you pay, amount of service charges that you pay, if there are any. You also need to know the type of accommodation that you use be it private rental or any council tenancy. Along with these, you need your landlord’s contact number and address.
These details are easily available on the rent agreement.
If you have your own house then things are fairly simple since all you shall be required are your postcode, mortgage amount and any additional service charges that you are subjected to pay.
- Details about your income and savings – For this, you need the info of your bank account, building society account, credit union account, and Post Office Card account. You also need to fill in the info about your earnings from your professional or non-professional work and carry evidence such as recent payslips. If you are a self-employed person, you need to carry your accounts and receipts.
If your income is not from any work then information about your pension plan and insurance plan is required. Additional Information about the shares that you own or any savings that you have or any other capital that you have shall also be required.
- Information on your family – Expenditure on childcare, if you want to claim for childcare that is, needs to be provided along with child benefit reference number.
STEP 2: Setting up an Online Account
You will have to apply for it at the GOV.UK site with your email address.
For individuals who are making a Joint Claim, you need to first make two separate accounts for your partner and yourself and then link it when asked during the application procedure.
STEP 3: Using the aforementioned Online Account to start a claim
It is absolutely worth it to start with your claim of Universal Credit as soon as you can. Login into your Universal Credit Account with the details that you used to set the account up. If you cannot remember your credentials, do not worry since there is a way out. All you have to do is click on the button which says “Problem signing in?” then that shall ask the DWP to send all your details to your email address and you shall be able to access your account again.
Once you enter after logging in, you will see a “to do” list which you will have to fill up by answering questions about your current financial constraints and recent situation.
Then you shall have to confirm your identity as well by taking you to a government system called “Verify” where you shall have to confirm your identity.
It can be difficult to complete the verification process. However, if you do face problem in completing the process, fret not since there is a way around it. What you will have to do is get back to your Universal Credit Account and find out the option which says “I can’t do this online”. Now you can forget about this step altogether and skip this tedious job since you shall be confirming your identity, not online but at the local Job Centre that is closer to you.
STEP 4: Arranging for an interview at the nearby local Job Centre within a week of the start of the claim Universal Credit
Once you are through with all the above-mentioned steps, and your identity have also been confirmed by the government agencies, you can arrange for an interview at the local nearby Job Centre whichever that is for you within 7 days of the application online.
If your Interview isn’t scheduled within a week, you might have to start all over again and re-apply for your Universal Credit again.
You will be given a phone number to call for an Interview after you are done with your online application. Keep your National Insurance Number ready since that might be needed.
And, if you are not given a phone number at all then call for help at the helpline number of the Official Universal Credit Helpline Full Service at 0800-328-5644 for Telephone and 0800-328-1344 for Textphone to arrange for the interview. The person you shall be speaking to shall also tell you about the date time and place for your interview and the documents that are needed to be carried.
After that, all you have to do is prepare for the Interview to ace it and then you are good to go.
May the force be with you!