nUniversal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. It’s paid monthly. You may be able to get it if you’re on a low income or out of work.

nUniversal Credit will replace the following benefits: Child Tax Credit; Housing Benefit; Income Support; income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA); income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA); and Working Tax Credit. If you receive any of these benefits, you cannot claim Universal Credit at the same time.

nHow much Universal Credit you get will depend on your earnings. Your circumstances are assessed every month and what you’re paid may change. The benefit cap may limit the total amount of benefit you receive. With access to HMRC’s real time earnings data, benefits payments can now be calculated exactly, and adjusted automatically to significantly reduce overpayments and ensure people receive the correct level of support both in and out of work.

nIf people cannot wait for their first Universal Credit payment they can request an advance payment. The Government wants to make sure people can claim an advance payment as quickly as possible and, once they know a claimant is entitled to an advance, it is paid within five working days. If someone is in urgent need a payment can be made on the same day. Research shows that 49 per cent of claimants took out an advance, which shows that people are aware of this support and using it.

nThe Department of Work and Pensions said a £1.5bn package of improvements announced in the Budget means:

- People can now make a claim to receive 100 per cent of their payment in advance and this can now be repaid over a period of 12 months.

- The seven-day waiting period for new claimants has now been removed.

- From April 2018, the government pays an additional two weeks’ of housing costs after the end of someone’s Housing Benefit claim and into their Universal Credit claim.

- The Government will be making it possible for people to apply for advances online, making it even easier for a claimant to access an advance if they need it.