Universal credit: How to claim
The firm intention is that Universal Credit is an online benefit both for claiming and managing the claim and for information exchanges between the claimant and their DWP workcoach/claim administrator. This may cause difficulties for many claimants who don’t have access to or struggle to use the internet or have limited access to broadband.
Currently, claims are made primarily on-line. There are security questions and IT security mechanisms built in to the process, although claimants should ensure their own computer equipment is adequately protected.
Claimants should read through the guidance before starting their on-line claim and try to have all the information to hand, to prevent being timed-out or leaving gaps or mistakes in their claim. Once the on-line claim form has been completed, a summary screen will show the claimant the information they have submitted and confirm the details. If the screen shows a figure of how much universal credit may be payable, this should be used as a guide only and not an indication that the claim has been successful.
Under the regulations, claims are to be made electronically. They can also be made by phone but only if DWP specify a telephone number for claims and indicate that they are willing to accept a claim by telephone.
People meeting the criteria in each of the 'live service' areas can make their claims online via GOV.UK. Once the claim has been accepted, DWP maintain the claim, award and information exchanges with the claimant manually by post, face to face and by telephone.
As with the ‘live service’ areas, claims in the digital service areas are to be made electronically, via a link on the GOV.UK website. The difference is that once the claim has been accepted, the claim is then also maintained and changes updated electronically. Additionally, DWP workcoaches can notify the claimant that they have sent a message or update to their universal credit account, via SMS text to aide communications.
After completing the claim online, the option will be given to submit the claim. The date of claim will be the date of submission.
Once DWP receive a claim, they will contact the claimant (usually by telephone) to arrange a face to face interview. DWP will advise what information and evidence the claimant should take to the interview. If a claim is made as a couple, both members of the couple will both get appointments from the Jobcentre to go in and meet their work coaches.
Before the interview claimants will be asked to confirm their identity and provide documents that support their claim. They will also be asked to sign a copy of the claim details.
At the interview the work coach will discuss the job search and draw up a claimant commitment. The claimant will be given a copy of the claimant commitment to take away. If they do not accept the claimant commitment, the claim will be closed.
Advice should be given about the support that is available, such as Universal jobmatch. Budgeting advice and support can also be given and the claimant will be reminded about their responsibilities and what will happen if they fail to meet their responsibilities.
After the interview, providing all the conditions of entitlement are met, DWP will process the claim and inform the claimant of the decision on their award by post. This letter, or award notice, can be used as proof of claim should the claimant need to use it when applying for other benefits or passported benefits, such as free school meals.
DWP urge claimants to report all changes in circumstances that may affect their UC award.
Once on UC, a person will stay on it even if their circumstances change, as long as the conditions of entitlement are still met. This is the case even if the claimant moves to an area where UC is not yet available. If UC is not live in the new area, face to face delivery will be through the local Jobcentre and council.
If someone starts work, so that they are no longer entitled to any payments of UC, the claim will remain open for 6 months. A claim will only be closed after 6 months of no UC payments.
Claimants can get help with their online claim by calling the UC helpline:
Phone: 0345 600 0723 (Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm)
Textphone: 0345 600 0743
(NB - claimants can use the above numbers with telephone pre-fix 0845 instead of 0345 if they prefer)
DWP have published a guide which sets out the claimant journey when claiming:
It is expected that support will be available from DWP (via Jobcentre Plus) and Local Authorities.
DWP has published a framework document that outlines the support framework for Local Authorities:
There is also a basic guide for organisations about UC online claims from DWP:
Updated 20 April 2017