What is Universal Credit?
A relatively new benefit, it’s the most significant change to the welfare state in many years. At the heart of it is a desire to see more people move closer to work, into work and to earn more money.

Who is eligible?
You can apply for Universal Credit if you’re on a low income or unemployed. You’ll usually only be able to claim if you’re aged 18 or over, but some people aged 16 or 17 can get it, depending on their circumstances. If you’re unsure you should check online to see if you’re eligible.

How do I make a claim?
You can apply for Universal Credit online. Follow the links for how to claim.

Is there anything specific I need to be aware of as a service family moving back to the UK?
If you’re concerned about how to access the welfare system, go online follow the links to Universal Credit. There’s lots of helpful information explaining what the benefit is, how it works, who may be entitled to it and what people should do.

Can I claim before I return to the UK?
You need to be resident in the UK before making a claim.

Is there anyone I can contact for support as part of the armed forces community?
The Veterans Gateway is a good starting point for those who have left the forces, are about to leave, or family members. Veterans Gateway advisers can provide links to the support available in the local area. Call 0808 802 1212 or visit the website. Lords Minister for Work and Pensions, Baroness Buscombe, said: “Claiming financial support shouldn’t be a worry when adjusting to civilian life. I want service personnel and their families to feel confident in claiming the benefits they’re entitled to, and the simple design of Universal Credit helps make this process as easy as possible.” 

Sally Cook, employer and partnership manager at Salisbury Jobcentre, said:Everyone who makes a claim to Universal Credit will be assigned a work coach at one of our Jobcentres and it’s always advisable for claimants to let their work coach know if they are a military spouse/partner. The work coach can help remove barriers to work, assist with CVs, interview skills and finding a job. A raft of support is available.”

Armed Forces Champions
The work coach has access to the district Armed Forces Champion (AFC) and can liaise with the AFC on your behalf to gain further understanding of armed forces issues and knowledge of the support available both locally and nationally. Every Jobcentre district has a named AFC in place. They’ll ensure that any concerns and issues raised which affect service personnel and their families are integrated within the wider work of Jobcentre Plus so that the support, advice and guidance offered in every Jobcentre reflects the needs of the service community within that district. 

National Insurance credits
NI credits go towards building qualifying years for your state pension and could help improve your final entitlement. These credits ensure spouses or civil partners who have been unable to work during those times accompanying their armed forces partner on overseas postings, don’t lose out on entitlement to the state pension. Go online for more information and to check your entitlement.

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