Universal Credit if you're unemployed

You can get Universal Credit if you are over 18, under State Pension age and unemployed or on a low income.

Universal Credit if you're unemployed

To get Universal Credit you must do everything you can to find work or increase your earnings. Universal Credit aims to make sure you are better off in work than on benefits and gives you the support you need to prepare for work, start work or increase your earnings.

There is no limit to the number of hours you can work in a week if you get Universal Credit. Your Universal Credit payments will reduce as you earn more.  This lets you take temporary or seasonal jobs without having to make a new claim.

Universal Credit includes support for the cost of housing, children and childcare, as well as support for disabled people, carers and people who are too ill to work.

The basic amount of Universal Credit is called the Standard Allowance which is an amount for you, or you and a partner.  Depending on your circumstances, you may get an additional amount of Universal Credit if you have children, if you pay for childcare or a payment to help cover housing costs. 

Additional amounts are also available for people who cannot be expected to work because of a disability or health condition, or because they provide a significant amount of care to someone with a disability.

Your Commitment

To get Universal Credit you will need to agree your Commitment through your online account.  Your Commitment sets out what you need to do to prepare for work, look for work or increase your earnings.

You will regularly discuss and update your Commitment with your Work Coach and you will need to agree the Commitment each time to keep getting Universal Credit.

The actions set out in your Commitment will depend on things like your health, your responsibilities at home and how much help you need to start working or increase your income.

Looking for work

To get Universal Credit, you will need to look for and prepare for work.

Work search actions could include:

  • registering with job search websites or recruitment agencies,
  • searching for jobs on the internet and newspapers
  • attending jobs fairs
  • applying for jobs.

Preparing for work

Work preparation actions could include:

  • preparing a CV
  • attending and completing a training course
  • completing a free essential skills course to improve your reading, writing, maths or IT skills

More information on looking for work and jobs and skills is available.

Your Work Coach

It is important that you keep in contact with your Work Coach through your Universal Credit journal and let them know if your situation changes to make sure you keep getting the right amount of Universal Credit.

Your Work Coach will contact you by telephone to discuss what activities you can do to help you move into employment, and to offer support to help you prepare for work and to get a job.

Your Work Coach will also provide information on other financial support and advice available. Further information is available on extra financial support and extra help with getting into work.

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