Universal Credit aims to make the welfare system simpler by replacing six benefits and credits with one single monthly payment if you are on a low income, in or out of work, or working flexible hours.

Why Universal Credit?

Universal Credit aims to ensure that you will be better off in work and makes it easier for you to start a new job or work more hours. As your take home pay increases, universal credit will gradually reduce, meaning that your benefits don't end immediately if you are on a low income.

Universal credit merges a number of existing benefits into one single payment:

  • Income support
  • Income related jobseeker's allowance
  • Income related employment support allowance
  • Housing benefit
  • Working tax credit
  • Child tax credit

The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for administering Universal Credit and not your local council.

What are the main changes?

  • You can only apply for Universal Credit online.
  • Universal Credit will be paid directly to one person in the household each month 
  • Any help with rent will be included in the Universal Credit payment. It will be the responsibility of the claimant to pay their landlord.

When will Universal Credit begin?

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages and it is intended to be fully implemented by 2017.

Who is eligible to apply?

Singles and couples with no dependent children can apply for Universal Credit if they meet all of the criteria set by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

For people who do not meet the criteria and need to claim an existing benefit, in most cases this can be done online:

Jobseeker's Allowance

Working Tax Credits

Help getting online

Universal Credit applications are online only.

If you don't have access to a computer, there are free public access computers available at all the libraries in South Hams along with the Council Offices in Totnes. These computers are available to be used by residents free of charge to apply for Universal Credit.

Find your nearest local centre:

Money management and Budgeting

Budgeting on benefits or low income can be challenging but if you would like help or advice to manage money we can help you with

To claim Universal Credit people are being advised to open a basic bank account.

For anyone who thinks they may struggle to manage their money on Universal Credit or is already in debt, support is available, you can ask your Job Centre Advisor to refer you to the Council so that we can arrange for assistance to be provided.

Support is also available from:

MA (Money Advice Service) is a free Government funded help and impartial advice service providing 24/7 advice.

Find out more information through the Money Advice Service.  

Council tax reduction

If you make a claim for universal credit and you are responsible for council tax you will need to council tax reduction.

Do not delay making your claim as we cannot backdate your council tax reduction and you may have to pay more council tax as a result.