what is universal credit and how do I apply for it

This is akt’s quick guide to getting financial benefits. If you’re unemployed or experiencing financial hardship, you may qualify for universal credit.


Universal Credit is the UK’s main benefit stream. If you’re unemployed, low income or you cannot work, you may be entitled to Universal Credit.

how to apply for universal credit:

Universal Credit is a monthly (or twice monthly) payment from the government for your rent and living costs.

You can usually get Universal Credit if you are:

  • on low or no income.
  • aged 18 or over OR aged 16-17 and don’t live with your parents because you’re estranged or they can’t support you financially.
  • a British or Irish citizen OR a refugee OR have humanitarian protection OR have settled status under the EU settlement scheme and have indefinite leave to remain.

The best way to apply for Universal Credit is online, but appointments are carried out via phone.

If you can’t get online, call the free UC helpline on 0800 328 5644.

You generally need to wait for at least 5 weeks to get your first payment. But if you need money urgently, you can ask for an advance payment, which will then be deducted from your future Universal Credit payments.


The benefits system can be even more difficult to navigate when you don’t have a permanent address. To find out more about navigating the benefit system when you’re experiencing homelessness, read the guide linked below.