How Universal Credit can help agency workers in lean months

Q. I work for an agency, but my hours are fluctuating a lot and I never know what income I am going to receive. Is there anything that I can claim when my income is low?
The charity advises now is the time to start putting money asideThe charity advises now is the time to start putting money aside
The charity advises now is the time to start putting money aside

A. Universal Credit has now been introduced to help people on a low income which replaces a lot of means-tested benefits such as Jobseekers’ Allowance, Housing Benefit and Tax Credits.
Universal Credit is a monthly benefit that is generally paid as one payment, rather than lots of separate payments.

This also means that only one benefit agency needs to be informed of changes in your income (other than Council Tax reduction which is calculated separately by your local authority).
If you earn too much in one month to claim Universal Credit, your claim will remain open and will be assessed again the following month.
Your claim will remain open for up to six months without payment. You can apply for Universal Credit at

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Q. I was found fit for work at my Employment and Support Allowance medical and was awarded 0 points.
I appealed to the Tribunal Service and they awarded nine points, which still isn’t enough to be paid Employment and Support Allowance. Can I appeal further?

A. If you feel that you were not given the chance to attend the appeal, or didn’t receive all of the paperwork or another procedural irregularity, then you can ask for the decision to be set aside.
You must write to the First Tier Tribunal within one month from the date on the decision letter.

The next step after an unsuccessful tribunal hearing is to request a statement of reasons; again this should be done in writing within one month from the date on the tribunal decision.

The statement of reasons should explain how the tribunal came to their decision and what evidence they have considered.

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If you can show that there has been an error of law then you can appeal to the Upper Tier Tribunal.

Errors of law can include mistakes about your circumstances or about the law, but you can’t appeal further just because you are unhappy with the decision or if you think another judge would have made a different decision.

Generally, if an error of law can be identified then the First Tier Tribunal would hear the appeal again to allow a fresh decision to be made.