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 living in a Full / Digital UC service area 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 living in a Live / Gateway area making a new claim based on NI contributions - they remain on Contribution-Based JSA and Contributory ESA and can 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) who live in a Full / Digital UC service area, 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, for those living in a Full / Digital UC service area, 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 in living in a Full / Digital UC area and even if the claimant is 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?

Making a claim for JSA or ESA

Who can still claim?

Claiming UC as well

Why would someone not want to?

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