Universal Credit: Do you have to pay back Universal Credit?

Universal Credit will come in handy for many people who have found themselves out of work this month due to the coronavirus pandemic. But what exactly is Universal Credit? And do you have to pay it back?

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a benefit payment paid to those in need.

It replaces some of the following legacy benefits and tax credits:

  • Housing Benefit.
  • Child Tax Credit.
  • Income Support.
  • Working Tax Credit.
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

It is paid monthly in arrears in England, Wales and Scotland, but you can ask for fortnightly payments instead in Scotland.

In Northern Ireland, it is paid every two weeks, but you can request a monthly payment instead.

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Do you have to pay back Universal Credit?

You only have to pay back Universal Credit if one of the following things have happened:

  • You did not report a change straight away
  • You gave wrong information
  • You were overpaid by mistake

You could be taken to court or have to pay a penalty if you give wrong information or don’t report a change in your circumstances.

Do you have to pay back a Universal Credit advance?

Yes, you will have to pay back a Universal Credit advance.

You can apply for an advance before your first payment, or if your circumstances have changed but you haven’t been paid the increased amount yet.

The online Government guidance says: “You will need to repay an advance from future Universal Credit payments or by other means if you no longer get Universal Credit, such as from wages or other benefits you may be getting.

“Deductions are made from your monthly Universal Credit payment.

“The first deduction is made on the day you get your first payment and you’ll have up to 12 months to pay back the advance.

“You can ask for your repayments to be delayed for up to 3 months if you can’t afford them.

“This is only allowed in exceptional circumstances.”

Find more information here.

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Who can claim Universal Credit?

You don’t have to be unemployed to receive Universal Credit, you can work as many hours as you like.

You might be able to claim Universal Credit if the following statements apply to you:

  • You’re out of work or on a low income
  • You’re aged 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 or 17)
  • You or your partner are under state pension age
  • You and your partner have less than £16,000 in savings
  • You live in the UK

How much is Universal Credit?

The amount you receive in Universal Credit varies from person to person.

It is made up of a basic allowance, plus additional costs on top of things like housing costs, caring, disability, or having children.

It also depends on how much income you are receiving from working, your pension, other benefits, or savings of more than £6,000.

The rates have increased as of this month.

Claimants who are single and under 25 will receive £251.77 per month, and singletons over 25 will get £317.82.

If couples under 25 apply together they will get £395.20, but if both are over 25 they will get £498.89 each.

How long does it take to get Universal Credit?

The assessment period means you won’t get your payment until at least a month after you’ve applied for Universal Credit.

This is because it is paid monthly in arrears.

After this, you will have to wait an additional week for the payment to arrive in your bank account.

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