Universal Credit’s full service can be found
on GOV.UK. You can use it on any internet enabled device and it will look and feel the
same regardless of what device you use. Before you open an account and make a claim
for Universal Credit, you’ll need to have an email address, mobile number and a bank,
building society or credit union account. We also recommend getting all your personal
details before you start such as any photo ID, your rent costs, wages, and child and
partner details to make your claim. You’ll be asked a few questions first about where
you live and if you have any children to ensure that you’re claiming the right benefit for
you. If Universal Credit is not the right benefit for you, you’ll see other potential
options available and can follow the links for more information.
To open an account you’ll need to create a username, password and choose two security
questions. You’ll need to remember these to use your account in the future. You will
then type in your email address and a mobile phone number. If something is wrong, a red
cross will appear next to the box to let you know where the problem is.
You’ll be asked for your preferred method of contact – text or email. This is how
we will tell you when your account has been updated. A code is then sent to your email
address for you to type back into the service to make sure the email address is correct
and that you can access it. If a mistake was made you can change the email address or resend
the code to try again. Once your initial details are complete, your
account is created and you can now make a claim for Universal Credit. Whilst you have
28 days to complete this, your claim does not actually start until you’ve completed
the claim process so we recommend continuing and doing it straight away.
To make a claim, you’ll need to complete your to do list. Each part of your to do list
will ask for some information about you. You can complete your to do list in any order
and depending on your answers; you may be asked additional questions. If you tell us
that you don’t have children for example, then we won’t ask you any more questions
about them. We ask questions about:
Where you live and any rent, mortgage or service charges that you have.
Who lives with you such as partners, children, family members or lodgers.
Your health conditions and if that affects your ability to work.
Your savings and investments. Your work and income – including any self-employed
work you do. Your account information,
and if you have any other commitments like caring for someone or being in full time education.
Getting your paperwork together ahead of time makes it easier for you to answer each question.
Your answers are saved after every page so if you need to stop and come back to it later,
you’ll be taken to where you left off. Once you’ve answered all of the questions,
you’ll be able to review them on your final declaration. To confirm your information is
correct, select “yes” for each box. If there’s anything you’d like to change, choose ”no,
change this” and you’ll be able to redo that section of your claim again. Once you have
confirmed everything is correct, you’ll be able continue.
Next you’ll be asked to confirm a Claimant Commitment. This is a high level agreement
that explains in broad terms what you’ll be expected to do in order to receive Universal
Credit. This will be different depending on your circumstances and if you are looking
for work, or more work – you will probably agree a more tailored and detailed one with
your Work Coach when you meet them in the future.
Lastly, you’ll be asked to legally declare all the information you have provided is correct
at the time of making your claim. It’s at this point your claim is submitted, and whilst there’s
still other things to do – the most important part is done. If you are worried about claiming
online, the service is just like filling out a form. If you can type in a textbox, click
a button and attach a document or photo using whatever device you’re most comfortable
with – you’ll be able to use this service. It’s as easy as posting to Facebook. The
whole process takes about 20 minutes for a single person and an hour for a couple.
If you are claiming as a couple, both of you will have your own accounts with your own
usernames and passwords. You will then join them together using a partner code. One of
the first questions you’ll be asked when opening an account if is you have a partner.
The first person opening an account should choose yes and ask to be given a “partner
code”. This is what’s used to join accounts together. When the second person in the couple
then opens an account, they can then type in that code and the accounts are then joined.
As a couple you’ll be able to see both yours and your partners outstanding items in your
to do lists at all times. Some things you can complete for each other whilst other things
must be completed separately. You will both need to agree on who is the primary carer
of any children you may have before you can submit your claim – and you both must declare
your details are correct separately before your claim is officially submitted. Should
circumstances change, and you no longer wish to claim as a couple, your accounts will be
separated and you’ll no longer have any access to each other’s outstanding actions.
You do not have start new accounts from scratch. This also works the other way, so if you move
in with your partner whilst claiming, you can join your accounts together and you don’t
need to start again. You can speed up your claim for Universal
Credit by proving your identity online using GOV.UK Verify. Once you’ve submitted your
claim a new item will appear in your to do list called “Verify Your Identity”. GOV.UK
Verify confirms your identity online by asking you to create an identity account with a company
that has been certified as safe, secure and likely to confirm information about you. There’s
a variety of companies to choose from and if you are using GOV.UK Verify for the first
time it will ask you some questions to help narrow down the companies of choice.
Once you have chosen your company you will then be taken to the company’s website to
register with them. You will need to remember these details as you will need them for when
you verify yourself again in the future. The company you choose will ask for your details
and then do some checks to make sure no one else is pretending to be you. The more details
you can give, the more likely it is they can help. Details could include your photo ID,
bank statements, or mobile phone bills. Some companies let you scan documents using an
app and then take a selfie to compare images. Once verified, we’ll be notified of this and
you’ll be taken back to your Universal Credit account to continue. If you aren’t able
to verify yourself online, you can book an appointment to bring in your ID to the jobcentre
and the list of what you can bring is shown online. If someone doesn’t have any ID documents
at all we can ask other trusted organisations to confirm your identity such as your GP,
but we will always exhaust all other options first.
The journal has two main functions. Firstly, it keeps a history of everything
you’ve done throughout the lifetime of your claim. Each time you complete something on
your to do list, its moved to the journal with a date and time stamp of completion.
If you’ve had an ongoing conversation with your Work Coach online, it’s stored here
too for reference, as are any changes you’ve made to your claim in the past and any information
that’s specific to your claim like if your claim has been suspended or copies of your
claim submissions. Secondly, it’s also the place to leave notes
and interact with your Work Coach. You can do this by adding a journal entry and selecting
what type of entry you’d like to leave. You can leave notes on your work search or
other things you’ve done to improve your circumstances or you can send a message. Your
Work Coach can also save documents here for you such as tailored CVs you may have worked
on together. If you’d like to set up an appointee, you can do so here by leaving a
note giving your authorisation and details of the appointee.
Once your claim has been submitted, you’ll gain access to your home page and each home
page is different for each person. It’s where you go to manage your claim details
and finances in Universal Credit, where as your to do list is usually more about working
with your work coach. Everyone will have the ability to view their
to do list and journal. Everyone will also be able to report a change of circumstances
online. If you can’t find a change you want to make online, you can contact your Work
Coach through the journal for advice. After each change you’ll be asked to legally declare
everything is correct before submitting and this may require both of you to do this if you’re claiming as a couple. Your home page will also contain your monthly
statement. This breaks down your payment so you can understand why you are being paid
a certain amount. It will show you each piece of income, any deductions and why and also
a breakdown of any penalties you may have. Your total amount will be displayed at the
top and the dates the payment covers underneath. As Universal Credit is paid in arrears and
adjusts according to your current living situation, it’s important to note that your statement
will not be available until your payment is calculated and processed. You’ll have access
to your previous statements too. The last button everyone will see on their home page
is a guide button which will give you more detailed information about Universal Credit
and how it all works. If you have stated you have children, you’ll
have the option to provide details to claim up to 85% of your eligible childcare costs
and if you have a health condition, you’ll have the option to provide details of your
fit notes before sending them in to us. You will also be able to see your tailored claimant
commitment if you have met with your Work Coach.
When working with your Work Coach, you’ll be using your account regularly to either
update on your work search activity in your journal, completing to do’s or using some
of the growing range of work tools available in the service. Most people will have a mix
of some meetings with their Work Coach in the Jobcentre, but then staying in touch through
their online account between appointments. An example would be that after meeting with
your Work Coach, it was decided you needed to update your CV. Your Work Coach will send
you a to do asking for this and you’ll be notified when the to do is sent by text or
email – whichever preference you set when opening your account. You’ll log into your
account, view the to do and once you’ve updated your CV, you’ll be able to upload
it into the service, add any comments and then send your reply back to your Work Coach.
Your Work Coach gets notified that you’ve replied and will review what you’ve sent
and if there’s any additional feedback they can reply back to you. Your conversations,
and your attachments, are stored in your journal so you can refer back to them. Work Coaches
can send to do’s for a variety of things such as jobs you may be interested in, upcoming
events and details of upcoming appointments. If you have a question for your work coach,
you can start the off the conversation yourself by asking a question using your journal.
To help both yourself and your Work Coach understand your priorities, there’s a growing
selection of work tools that can spark new ideas and help you plan out your next steps.
Some will help you complete your own Claimant Commitment. Other’s help you plan out what
you need to next to make progress by giving suggestions for you to explore and gain more
information about them. Another helps you track what jobs you’ve applied for more
easily. A lot of these tools are in early development but these are the kinds of things
you’ll have access to when using your account in the future – and it will all help the Jobcentre
give you the tailored support you need quicker. With the service ever growing and adding new
things all the time, your Universal Credit account is your go to place for payments,
information, support and advice.