Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
How it Works: UC and Contributory Benefits


  • Universal Credit is NOT replacing any of the contributory benefits.

  • The contributory benefits can still be claimed - although some people may be wrongly advised by the DWP that Contribution-Based JSA and Contributory ESA no longer exist.

  • The confusion has arisen because there are quite confusing rules:
    • For claimants whose area had gone onto the 'Full' (Digital) UC service area when making a new claim based on NI contributions - Contribution-Based JSA is called New-Style JSA, and Contributory ESA is called New-Style ESA and can be 'topped up' by Universal Credit.
    • For claimants who were still living in a 'Live' (Gateway) area when they made their new claim based on NI contributions - they would have been awarded Contribution-Based JSA and Contributory ESA and these can (still) be topped up by Income-Based JSA and Income-Related ESA respectively.
    • However, before new claims in the 'Live' (Gateway) areas were closed in January 2018, those claimants who passed the UC 'Gateway conditions' - whether or not claiming UC at the same time - were awarded New-Style JSA and are therefore classed as coming under the UC system and if they require a top-up would need to claim UC.

  • In certain circumstances, claimants who finish work but already have existing awards of legacy benefits (eg. HB, CTC) might be better off if they choose to just claim their contributory benefits and stay on their existing legacy benefits without also claiming Universal Credit.

  • Although, it can be difficult, in practical terms, to make a claim for New-Style JSA/ESA without claiming Universal Credit at the same time.

  • All the other contributory benefits are unaffected by the introduction of Universal Credit.

  • Anyone who meets the claiming criteria for a contributory benefit can claim it - even if they are  already on Universal Credit.

  • Receiving a contributory benefit will affect the amount of Universal Credit the claimant is entitled to - click here to find out how.

What are the contributory benefits?

What they are and which can still be claimed

What's happening to JSA & ESA?

What is New-Style JSA & ESA?

Claiming JSA or ESA

Who can still claim?

Claiming UC as well

Why would someone not want to?

Old Style vs New Style

What's the difference?

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