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Claim Universal Credit

Are you unsure if you should be claiming Universal Credit?

Check your position and get advice before making a claim

Many people will find themselves worse off under Universal Credit, so get advice if you’re unsure whether you should be claiming. It’s important to check before making the claim because you cannot reclaim legacy benefits at a later date, even if you claimed Universal Credit by mistake or as a result of being misadvised.

Existing ‘legacy’ claimants do not have to claim Universal Credit until they:

  • are migrated to Universal Credit by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) ; or
  • have a change of circumstances which requires a new claim.

Some changes in circumstance will trigger a new Universal Credit claim (such as becoming responsible for a child and not already receiving Working Tax Credit), and others will not (for example changing address within the same borough), meaning you can remain on your existing benefits. Read Who can claim Universal Credit for more information.

Borough residents can contact our Welfare Rights Team for:

  • benefits advice
  • a copy of the Migration to Universal Credit factsheet.

How to claim?

Claims are normally made and maintained online on the GOV.UK website.

If you need help to claim Universal Credit

The Citizens Advice Bureau provide a "Help to Claim" service for Universal Credit which can be contacted by phone on 0800 144 8444 or by visiting the website.

They also provide face-to-face advice at different locations in the borough, for example a daily "Help to Claim" service in Woolwich Jobcentre.

Claimants who are unable to make or sustain an online claim due to ill health, disability or another vulnerability can also contact the Universal Credit helpline and ask to make a telephone claim:

Telephone: 0800 328 5644

Welsh language: 0800 012 1888

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

The claimant commitment

Once you have submitted your claim you will be invited to the jobcentre to sign a claimant commitment and to verify the information you provided.

Universal Credit cannot be awarded without a claimant commitment so it's very important that you attend the interview. The claimant commitment will set out the steps you have agreed to take to prepare for work and the number of hours you have agreed to look for work each week. If you don't keep to what has been agreed the amount of money you receive may be reduced through a benefit sanction.

You need to tell the work coach about any limitations you have with looking for and preparing for work so that what you agree is manageable. Limitations could include health problems, disabilities or caring responsibilities. It is recommended that you sign the initial agreement and then later negotiate what may suit you personally.

If you need help managing your Universal Credit claim

If you have claimed Universal Credit, but are having difficulties managing your claim, the Council's Universal Support Team can offer you a face to face appointment to discuss your difficulties and help you try to resolve them.

For more information watch our Universal Credits Key Facts video:

Are interested in improving your computer skills or need free access to a computer?

  • Jobcentre Plus - provides one to one support, advice and training opportunities. Speak to your work coach at Forest Hill, Woolwich or Bexleyheath Job Centres.
  • Learn My Way sessions at local libraries - contact your local library, go to the Libraries section on our website or phone 020 8854 8888 to find your local library.
  • Go Train - for IT and employment skills training and support, call 020 8854 1935 or email
  • Greenwich Local Labour and Business - for support and training to help you move into employment or an apprenticeship, see the GLLaB section on our website or call 020 8921 2440
  • The Point - support for young adults (up to 20 years or 25 if vulnerable) including employment and training support. Young people can access computers any time, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Call 020 8921 8224 or email