Already getting Tax Credits and/or Housing Benefit?
Someone who is currently in receipt of Tax Credits and/or Housing Benefit may be able to stay on those benefits, but could be better off if they claim Universal Credit if eligible – they should seek advice from a Benefits Adviser who will be able to conduct a better off calculation.
NOTE: Some claimants ie those protected by the ‘SDP Gateway (NOTE: the SDP Gateway no longer applies - it was revoked from 27th January 2021)’, will be able to make a new claims for Income-Related ESA or Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance.
If they are not already receiving Council Tax Support they should make a claim as soon as possible from their Local Authority.
If they have school age children they may now be entitled to free school meals.
4 week run-on
There is a special rule that says WTC can run on for 4 weeks when someone stops work, or their hours are reduced below the number required for WTC.
Even though someone's earnings have dropped they will not see in increase in their Tax Credits during the 4 weeks - ie the Tax Credit award will remain the same.
However, employees might be entitled to New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance, depending on their National Insurance contribution record.
Once the WTC has ended (ie after the 4-week run-on) they would need to think about claiming Universal Credit.
If they are likely to be off work for more than 4 weeks, they might want to consider whether they could be better off claiming Universal Credit sooner rather than later (eg if they have rent to pay and they are not getting any Housing Benefit).
However, if they are due a final payment from work, they could be better off if they wait until the day after they have received that payment – so that it is not taken into account when their first month’s UC award is calculated.
If someone feels that they are best off waiting until after the WTC 4 week run on to claim UC, they should be careful if they try to claim New Style JSA straight away – as sometimes people are told that they must claim UC at the same time as NS-JSA, which is incorrect.
Every situation is different – it is best to speak to a benefits adviser.
Not currently getting any means-tested benefits?
They will not be able to make a new claim for Tax Credits.
As long as they meet the general eligibility criteria for UC then they can make a claim for it - click here.