Benefits and debt advice - coronavirus update

Universal Credit

Claiming Universal Credit

Introductory information on Universal Credit (UC) 

The value of Universal Credit has been increased by £1000 p.a. 

Working Tax Credits (WTC) have also been increased by £1000. If you are receiving WTC or any other ‘legacy benefit’ such as Employment Support Allowance or Housing Benefit you should get advice before making a claim for UC.

For independent advice on Universal Credit (UC) and all other benefits contact the Advice Shop on

0131 200 2360 

or  email

For specific UC Help to Claim information phone Citizen’s Advice Scotland (CAS) on

0800 023 2581

or Citizens Advice Edinburgh on

0131 510 5510

Job centres are closed

Like most services the 3 job centres in Edinburgh are now temporarily closed so you cannot visit them for help or assistance. Enquiries about new claims should be made through your online UC journal or by calling

0800 328 5644

Self employed and unable to work

If you are already claiming certain benefits such as

  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Child Tax Credits

then you may be better off staying on these benefits rather than claiming UC. You should report the change in your income to Housing Benefit.

If you are already getting UC then you must update your journal online with your new income information. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have removed the ‘Minimum Income Floor’ within UC which will enable minimum £94 per week to be available.

Points of note

  • If you are self employed and having to cease work you should probably claim UC. However, if your household income or savings are too high for UC you should consider contributions based benefits (New style JSA or ‘new style’ ESA).
  • If you are self employed and ill or self-isolating then consider if it’s best to claim ‘new style’ ESA or UC or both. The waiting days for ESA have been removed and no fit note needs to be submitted. UC may be a better option if needing quicker access to income, help with housing costs and child element.  For many, in practical terms it may be easier just to claim UC.
  • Another positive to claiming UC is it also doubles up as a claim for Council Tax reduction which will help avoid possible difficulties of later. As part of the UC claim you will be asked if the information you’ve provided can be shared with the Local Authority, if you tick yes this will also be treated as a claim for Council Tax reduction.

Phone the HMRC helpline for businesses and self-employed people concerned about paying tax

0800 0159 559.

Self-assessment payments deadline has been deferred to January 2021.

Furloughed and on low income

If your income has fallen you may now be entitled to Universal Credit. All your income and savings will be taken into account when claiming UC so you must declare these in detail, as well as what housing costs (rent or mortgage you may have).

Remember, you need to make a separate claim for Council Tax Reduction if your income has fallen and you are claiming UC.