This article explains what Universal Credit is and how you may be eligible to this benefit.


Universal Credit (UC) is a single payment that is made up of different amounts depending on your circumstances. The payment will take into account:
• your earnings if you are working
• your partner’s earnings if they are working
• any other income that is coming into your household
The amount you get is worked out each month, so may be different from one month to the next if you earn a different amount, or if your circumstances change.

UC replaces the following benefits:
• Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
• Income Support
• Working Tax Credit
• Housing Benefit

You will continue to receive these benefits as long as your circumstances remain the same. Should your circumstances change due to the impact of Covid-19, you will be moved to UC. Anyone making a new claim will need to apply for Universal Credit. 

Universal Credit can only be claimed online.  If your circumstances prevent you from making a claim online you can contact the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 3285644 from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

From the 9th of April 2020 you are no longer required to call the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for an interview after you have submitted your claim.  The DWP will contact you directly should they need clarification or further information about your claim.

UC is a means tested benefit which may be impacted by the amount of money you have in savings. Please refer to section entitled Capital for more information.

Benefit calculators are available to help determine which benefits individuals are entitled to and how much. Use an independent benefits calculator to find out:

• Which  benefits you could get
• How to claim
• How your benefits will be affected if you start work

The organizations listed below provide benefit calculators which are free to use, anonymous, and have replaced the Benefits Adviser service. The links below will take you directly to the calculator:

• Entitledto :
• Turn-2-us:
• Policy-in-Practice:

You will need accurate information about the following:
• Your Savings
• Income, including your partner’s (e.g. from payslips)
• Existing benefits and pensions (including anyone living with you)
• Council tax bill and other outgoings (e.g. rent, mortgage, childcare payments)

How Payments Are Calculated

There are 3 steps to work out your Universal Credit payment. Information about each step are detailed below.

1. Standard Allowance

Firstly your household’s maximum Universal Credit amount is calculated. This will be made up of one standard amount and any additional amounts that apply to you and your household e.g.  housing costs or income related to children. This is known as your Standard Allowance. This amount will depend on your age, or whether you are single or a couple as shown below.

Status Monthly - Standard Allowance
Single and under 25 years old - £251.77
Single and over 25 years old - £317.82
In a couple and both under 25 years old - £395.20
In a couple and one or both over 25 years old -  £498.89

Universal Credit can provide support to help with the costs of bringing up children.  If you are responsible for a child (or children) who normally live with you, then you may qualify for the Child Amount. The amount you may be able to get is shown below:

Number Of Children - Monthly Amount
First child (Born before 6 Apr 2017) - £277.08
First child (Born after 6 April 2017) - £231.67
Second Child - £231.67

You may get extra money if your dependent child has a disability. This Disabled Child Addition is paid at either a higher rate component of £392.08 per month or a lower rate component of £126.11 per month.

To qualify for the lower rate your child must be:
• Entitled to Disability Living Allowance
• Entitled to Personal Independence Payment (for a child over 16)

To qualify for the higher rate your child must be:
• Entitled to Disability Living Allowance (higher rate care component)
• Entitled to Personal Independence Payment (enhanced rate or for a child over 16)
• Registered blind

You can still receive a disabled child addition for a third or subsequent child, even if you do not get the basic child amount.

Childcare Costs
If you are a working parent, Universal Credit can help you with the costs of childcare no matter how many hours you work.

Number of children - Maximum Monthly Payment
For one child - £646.45
For 2 or more children - £1,108.08

Carer’s Allowance
You can get an additional amount if you are caring for a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours a week. You do not need to be in receipt of Carer’s Allowance. If you make a joint claim, both parties will get a carer’s amount, as long as you are not caring for the same severely disabled person. 

If you or your partner get Carer’s Allowance, your Universal Credit (Standard Allowance) payment will be reduced by £1 for every £1 you receive from Carer’s Allowance.

If you are entitled to both the carer’s amount and the ‘limited capability for work’ or ‘limited capability for work and work-related activity’ amount (see below for more information), you are not entitled to receive both. Instead you will receive the larger amount of £160.20 per month.

Limited capability
If you have a condition that means you are not able to look for work now but can prepare for work with the aim of working at some time in the future, you will not usually be able to get any additional amounts of Universal Credit due to sickness or disability. However, you may get an additional £126.11 providing the following conditions apply:
• you have been assessed previously as having limited capability for work
• you were receiving a benefit because of that condition before 3 April 2017
• you still have that condition
• according to your circumstances, you may receive an extra monthly amount

Limited capability for work and work-related activity
You can get an additional amount if you have a health condition or disability that affects your ability to carry out work-related activity. This is assessed through a Work Capability Assessment.
If you and your partner are making a joint claim and you both are entitled to this addition, your payment will only include one amount. You will receive an additional £336.20 if you qualify.

You may have to wait 3 months for your limited capability for work and work-related activity payments to be added to your Universal Credit payment.

There are instances where it can be added on straight away, such as if you were entitled to Employment and Support Allowance immediately prior to your Universal Credit claim.

Terminally ill
If you’re terminally ill you may get extra money from Universal Credit. Refer to the website to find out more about how Universal Credit can help people with health conditions or disabilities.

Housing costs
If you and/or your partner are responsible for paying rent (including some service charges) for the home you live in, or if you have a mortgage, Universal Credit may provide help towards the cost. If you receive help towards housing costs it will be paid as part of your Universal Credit payment. It is your responsibility to make sure you pay your rent and other housing costs to your landlord in full.

If you are having trouble managing your money, or if you live in Scotland, you can ask to have your housing costs paid directly to your landlord. Talk to your work coach or call the helpline for more information. Find out more about how Universal Credit can help with the costs of housing via the website

2. Earnings and other income

Other money coming into your household will be taken into account when working out your Universal Credit payment. This includes your earnings, any capital you have and any other sources of income (such as from a retirement pension).

You may still be able to receive Universal Credit payments when you start work or increase your earnings. Your Universal Credit payments will adjust automatically if your earnings change, meaning you have the flexibility to take on part-time or short-term work.

As your earnings increase, your Universal Credit amount will go down, depending on your circumstances. For more information see Universal Credit and work.

If you are part of a couple and have a joint award, then both your earnings will be used to calculate your Universal Credit payment.

Capital is something that could be a source of income. This includes:
• savings, such as those in a bank or building society
• investments such as Bonds or ISAs
• property that you may own or part own (other than the house you live in)

When you claim Universal Credit you will need to declare all of your capital. If your capital is worth more than £16,000 you will not be entitled to claim Universal Credit. If you are in a couple but have to make a claim as a single person, your partner’s capital/savings will still be taken into account.

The points below explains how the amount of capital you have will affect your Universal Credit claim:

• Capital/savings you have under £6,000 is not taken into consideration when assessing your UC claim.
• Any capital/savings between £6,000 and £16,000 is treated as if it gives you a monthly income of £4.35 for each £250, or part of £250, regardless of whether it does or not.
So if you have £6,300 in a savings account, £6,000 of it will be ignored and the other £300 will be treated as giving you a monthly income of £8.70.
• If you have capital/savings worth more than £16,000 you will not be entitled to Universal Credit. This is the same if you are a single claimant or are making a claim as a couple.

Other money coming into your household
This means any other money that you may receive, for example, from a pension or other benefits. When you claim Universal Credit, you need provide information about your income from other sources as this could affect the amount of Universal Credit you receive. These include:
• Retirement pension income
• Maintenance payments
• Student income
• Any other income which is taxable

You can receive other benefits and also claim Universal Credit at the same time. For every £1 you receive from other benefits your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by £1.These include:
• Carer’s Allowance
• Incapacity Benefit
• Maternity Allowance
• New style Employment and Support Allowance
• New style Jobseeker’s Allowance
• When working out your Universal Credit, there are some other benefits that aren’t taken into account. These include:
• Child Benefit
• Disability Living Allowance
• Personal Independence Payment
• War pensions

There may be instances when money may be taken out of your Universal Credit payment this will include:
• to pay back any advances or loans you have taken out
• to pay back any debt or overpayment on other benefits
• to pay your utility bills direct to the provider
• child maintenance payments

The maximum amount of money that can normally be deducted from your payment for these reasons is 30% of your Standard Allowance.

Your payment may also be reduced if you have received a sanction. This can be up to 100% of your standard allowance if you are claiming on your own, or up to 50% of the standard allowance for each member of a couple.

If you used to claim tax credits and you received an overpayment, this debt will be carried over to Universal Credit. Your Universal Credit payments will be reduced until the overpayment has been paid back.

Read more about debts and deductions that can be taken from Universal Credit payments. Via the website.

3. Benefit cap

There’s a limit on the total amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. This is called the benefit cap; the amount you will receive depends on your circumstances.

Living outside Greater London - Benefit Cap
Single and don’t have children; or your children don’t live with you - £257.69 per week (£13,400 a year)
Single and your children live with you  £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year)
A couple, whether your children live with you or not  £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year)

Living in Greater London B- enefit Cap
Single and don’t have children; or your children don’t live with you - £296.35 per week (£15,410 a year)
Single and your children live with you - £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year)
A couple, whether your children live with you or not - £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year)

• Help towards the cost of supported or sheltered accommodation is not taken into consideration when working out the total amount of benefit you receive.

• If you are already claiming benefits and are likely to be affected by the benefit cap rules, you will already have been notified and offered support from a work coach to help you prepare for it.

The benefit cap will not apply to some people – for example, if you or your partner work more than a certain number of hours per week. Find out more about the benefit cap via the website.

If you require more information refer to the Universal Credit please call a member of the Welfare Benefits team whose contact details can be found in the Directory of Institutions or via the IIUKAPP.