How to prepare for Universal Credit

Make sure you have good access to the internet

  • You already have an email address, which is a great start – but most people need access to a computer to successfully apply for Universal Credit. You’ll also need regular internet access to keep up to date with your online journal and work coach.
  • You can access computers and internet free in our receptions.
  • We also offer reconditioned computer equipment for you to buy from as little as £99. Find out more on how this works.
  • If you will really struggle to apply online, you might be able to apply by phone or in person but you will need to explain to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) why you can’t apply online. You can call the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 328 5644 or visit the Citizens advice website (see section: ‘If you have problems using the internet’)

Set a budget

  • Making a budget helps you see where you’re spending your money and could help you avoid overspending. You may even find there are some easy ways to make savings.
  • The Money Advice Service has a free online budget calculator. It will break down your spending and give you personalised tips to make the most of your money.
  • Citizens Advice’s website also has an online budget calculator.
  • If you prefer to do a budget with pen and paper find out how to do it here. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll find the Budget Planner Universal Credit pdf in the useful downloads section.

Plan ahead for a month without benefits

  • It’s likely you’ll have to wait over a month for your first Universal Credit payment. You can apply for an Advance Payment to help you while you wait. You’ll have to pay it back a little at a time as soon as you can. Find out how to apply.
  • Food banks give free food to people in need. If you know that you’ll be switching to Universal Credit and you’re worried about having enough money for food, it would be a good idea to stock up. Usually you’ll need a referral from a social worker, GP or charity. Your nearest Citizens Advice centre will also be able to refer you. Find your local branch.
  • If you are in desperate need now, there may be some independent food banks that will help without a referral. Look on the internet to see if there are any independent food banks in your area.
  • Find out more information about financial support here.

Build a buffer

If you're able to, it's helpful to pay a little extra on your rent account in the run up to switching to Universal Credit. Even if it's just a small amount in the month before you apply. If you have any questions or want to find out more, please call us on 0300 5000 926.

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Universal Credit - home
Start again

How to prepare and apply
Get ready

The interview, workcoach and activity groups
Be prepared

The journal and avoiding sanctions
Useful tips