How to apply for Universal Credit
A claim for Universal Credit should normally be made online.
If you do not know how to use a computer and/or you do not have access to the internet then ring the Universal Credit Service Centre on 0800 328 5644 or call into your local JobCentre. They will be able to advise you on your options.
Council Tax Reduction
Remember, if you are the person who is responsible for paying the council tax for your home then you could be eligible for Council Tax Reduction from the City of Wolverhampton Council. Please visit our Council Tax Reduction page to find out more about Council Tax Reduction and how to apply. To avoid falling behind with your Council Tax payments, please contact us so that we can make arrangements with you to pay your Council Tax. To see what other discounts and/or exemptions are available, please visit www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/counciltax
How much is your rent
If you live in rented accommodation then you will need to enter the total amount of your rent (i.e. the amount you are expected to pay) on the online form. This might be different to the amount you actually pay or have paid in past because you got Housing Benefit. If you do not entre the correct amount then you could encounter problems further down the line and delay your claim. These details apply irrespective of whether your landlord is Wolverhampton Homes, a housing association or a private landlord.
Meeting a work coach
Once you have completed your online claim you will need to contact (within 7 days) the Universal Credit Service Centre on 0800 328 5644 to make an appointment with a Work Coach at your local Job Centre. At this meeting you will need to provide documentation to:
- verify your identity (see ‘Verifying your identity’ below); and
- verify the identity of any dependent children you have if you are not getting Child Benefit for them; and
- verify where you live by taking recent letters/bills (e.g. bank statements, fuel bills, etc) sent to you at your address; and
- verify your rent details (if you live in rented accommodation) by taking your rent book, rent agreement and/or a formal letter from your landlord confirming your tenancy and rent details.
After this meeting you will need to make a further meeting with the Work Coach to draw up your ‘claimant commitment’. See ‘The Claimant Commitment’ below.
Verifying your identity
When you apply for Universal Credit you will need to verify your identity. You can do this when applying online using Gov.UK Verify for more information. If you do not do this online then you can take proof of your identity (e.g. your passport or photo driving license) with you when you meet your Work Coach at your local Job Centre. If you do not have any photo ID then your Work Coach will ask you some questions about yourself to ascertain your identity. The process is known as a ‘biographic’ test. If you fail this, then you will be asked to nominate someone who knows you (e.g. Social Worker, Probation Officer or some other responsible person) who will then be contacted in order to confirm who you are. This could end up delaying your claim. The DWP have introduced special measures for homeless people - please make enquiries about this at your local job centre.
The Claimant Commitment
Virtually everyone who applies for Universal Credit will be expected to have a ‘claimant commitment’. Under your ‘claimant commitment’ you will be expected to:
- attend Work-focused Interviews with your Work Coach to examine any barriers to your obtaining paid employment
- undertake Work Preparation involving your attendance on training courses or work experience programme to help you obtain paid employment
- look for work up to 35 hours per week
- be available to attend a job interview or take up the offer of paid employment without delay
If you fail (without ‘good reason’) to adhere to the conditions within your ‘claimant commitment’ then you will be sanctioned. If you have been refused Universal Credit due to a failure to agree to a ‘claimant commitment’ then you should seek specialist advice. If you have been sanctioned because it has been decided that you failed to keep to the terms of your ‘claimant commitment’ then you should seek help to dispute the decision. In any event if as a result of any sanction you are going to be left short of money meaning you will suffer financial hardship (e.g. you will be unable to buy food and/or pay you gas and electric bills) then you can apply to Universal Credit Service Centre on 0800 328 5644 or through your Work Coach for a ‘hardship payment’ - a loan that would need to be repaid once you get Universal Credit normally. Please be aware that if you are a member of a couple then both of you will need to have a ‘claimant commitment’. Also, note that depending on your individual circumstances (e.g. whether you have children, are a carer, undertake voluntary work or are already in paid employment) what is expected from you will be different particularly if you are unwell or have a disability.
Visit Places to go for support to see where you can go in Wolverhampton for help with disputing Universal Credit decisions.
Do not have a bank account
You will normally need a bank account (or similar account) to apply for Universal Credit. If you do not have one then you may like to open an account with the Wolverhampton City Credit Union. A Credit Union account is ideal for those claiming Universal Credit. This is because the Credit Union can help you to budget by arranging for your bills, including the important ones (e.g. rent, gas, electric, council tax and water rates) to be paid on time direct from your account. You may also be able to access low interest loans from the Credit Union, including a ‘Crisis Loan’ should you be in financial difficulties.
Poor Health or Disability
There is space on the online application form to let the Department for Work and Pensions know if ill-health and/or disability affects your ability to work. If this applies, then it is important that you enter the details of your ill-health and/or disability and confirm the details of any treatment that you may be receiving (or recovering from or waiting to receive) and the details of all your medications. If you think that you are unable to work due to your condition then see your doctor. They can give you a ‘Med3 Fit Note’ showing that you are too sick to work. There is space on the online claim where you can provide the details and dates from your ‘Med3 Fit Note’. If you are not well or have a disability which could affect your ability to work or look for work then it is important that you let the Department for Work and Pensions (your Work Coach at your local Job Centre) know. This is because if you have no health problems or a disability then your obligation to work and look for work could be reduced or removed altogether.
Your Universal Credit Journal
When applying for Universal Credit online you will be expected to follow steps to create a personal online journal. You will be expected to use your journal to notify the Department for Work and Pensions about changes in your circumstances and the Department for Work and Pensions will use it to send you information about your claim including details of any meetings that have been arranged for you with your Work Coach. You should get an email or text to alert you to messages put into your journal. If, as part of your ‘claimant commitment’ (see above) you are expected to find paid employment then you will use your journal to confirm what steps you have been taking week to week to find work. Your journal will be protected by a ‘username’ and password that only you will know. You must remember these and keep them safe. If you are a member of a couple then you will be given a code which will enable you to access your partners journal.
What if I am unable to make a claim for Universal Credit
If you are housebound and not digitally connected, and so unable to apply for Universal Credit, then you should ring the Universal Credit Service Centre on 0800 328 5644. People at the Universal Credit Service Centre can arrange for someone from the Department for Work and Pensions to visit you and assist you in applying for Universal Credit.