Universal Credit is normally paid to you as a single monthly payment, but it’s made up of several different elements. Before you actually make a claim, it’s hard to give an accurate figure for how much Universal Credit you’ll receive. In this guide, we look at the different allowances and elements you might be entitled to, how much you can get for each one and how payments can be affected by other income and savings.
Universal Credit Standard Allowance
Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the government has announced the Universal Credit standard allowance is increasing by up to £86.67 a month for one year from 6 April 2020 for all new and existing claimants. The amount you will get depends on your circumstances.
If you’re claiming Universal Credit, you will get one standard allowance for your household. The amount you will get is:
- £342.72 per month for single claimants under 25
- £409.89 per month for single claimants aged 25 or over
- £488.59 per month for joint claimants both under 25
- £594.04 per month for joint claimants with either aged 25 or over
These figures include the increase to the standard allowance because of coronavirus.
Help to Claim
If you’re claiming Universal Credit for the first time, Citizens Advice has a dedicated service to help you. Call 0800 144 8444 in England or 0800 024 1220 in Wales.
For more information and to find your local Citizens Advice on their website
In Scotland, call 0800 023 2581, via webchat on the Citizens Advice website or contact your local bureau directly during their usual business hours.
On top of the standard allowance, you might get additional allowances including:
- child element
- childcare costs element
- limited capability for work-related activity element (LCWRA)
- limited capability for work and work element (not available after 3 April 2017)
- carer element
- housing costs element.
If you’re looking after a child under the age of 16, or a qualifying young person under the age of 20, you qualify for the child element. This entitles you to:
- £281.25 per month for first or only child born before 6 April 2017
- £235.83 per month per child in all other circumstances.
You can only claim the child element for a maximum of two children, unless an exemption, such as a multiple birth applies, or you’ve adopted.
If your child has a long-term health condition or is disabled, you might be entitled to one of the following disabled child elements:
- £162.92 per month per child or qualifying young person currently getting DLA or PIP.
- £400.29 per month per child or qualifying young person if they get the highest rate of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) care component, enhanced rate of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for daily living or are registered blind.
Childcare costs element
If you’re working you can get up to 85% of your childcare costs paid for, up to a maximum of £646.35 per month for one child, or £1108.04 per month for two or more children.
Both of you must be working if you’re claiming as a couple unless the non-working partner:
- Has limited capability for work or limited capability for work and work-related activity (LCWRA)
- Is a carer for someone with a severe disability
- Is temporarily absent, for example in prison, hospital or residential care.
If you are entitled to Universal Credit, you cannot also get tax-free childcare payments.
You will get £341.92 per month if you satisfy the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and have a limited capability for work and work-related activity (LCWRA).
If you’re making a joint claim, only one of you needs to have LCWRA to receive this element.
You will not get this if you earn more than the equivalent of 16 hours a week at the National Minimum Wage, unless you’re also getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Limited capability for work element
LCW is not available if you’re claiming Universal Credit after 3 April 2017.
You will get £128.25 per month if you have limited capability for work (LCW) following the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
If you’re caring for a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours a week, you will get £162.92 per month.
If you’re making a joint claim, you can both receive the carers element, but you cannot be caring for the same person.
You do not qualify for the carer element if you have any earnings from your caring responsibilities.
If you’re claiming as a single person, you will only get one carer element even if you care for more than one disabled person.
If more than one person is careering for the same person, you will need to decide who will get the carer element.
Housing costs element
Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the government has announced the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) will pay for at least 30 percent of market rents in your area.
The housing costs element helps you pay for all, or part, of your rent and some service charges.
How much you get depends on where you live and if you’re a private or social tenant.
The housing costs element for private tenants is based on the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for where you live.
LHA is calculated on a formula for rental prices in your area for the number of rooms you need.
For example, a single claimant with no children, will have their LHA based on the average cost of renting a one bedroom flat in that area.
This means your housing costs element might not cover all your rent.
Social housing tenants
If you’re a social housing tenant, the housing costs element is based on your eligible rent.
The eligible rent takes into consideration the number of bedrooms you actually need. You’re allowed one bedroom for:
- each adult couple
- each person over 16
- two children of the same sex under 16
- two children under 10 regardless of gender
- any other child
- overnight carer who doesn’t normally live with you.
If you have more bedrooms than you actually need, your eligible rent will be reduced by:
- 14% for one spare bedroom
- 25% for two or more spare bedrooms.
You will not be affected by this reduction if you’re:
- foster carers
- parents of someone in the armed forces, or full-time student
- parents of a severely disabled child.
How much Universal Credit will I get if I’m working?
If you’re getting a self-employed income support grant, this will need to be reported as income when it is paid.
You can work as many hours as you want when claiming Universal Credit, but this might affect how much you get.
This depends on whether or not you qualify for a work allowance. This is the amount you can earn before you Universal Credit payment is affected.
You may qualify for a work allowance if:
- you’re in paid work and responsible for a dependent child,
- can’t work as much because of illness or disability.
Monthly work allowances are set at:
- £292 if your Universal Credit includes housing support
- £512 if you do not receive housing support.
Your Universal Credit payment will go down by 63p for every £1 you earn above your work allowance.
If you don’t get a work allowance, your Universal Credit payment will go down by 63p for every £1 on all your earnings.
Non-work income and Universal Credit
Non-work income is any money you have coming in, which is not from work or benefits, for example, a pension.
For every £1 you have coming in from non-work income, your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by £1.
Savings and Universal Credit
If you or your partner have savings of over £6,000 (£10,000 if you’re over state pension age) your Universal Credit payment will start to be reduced. If you or your partner have over £16,000 in savings, you will not be entitled to any Universal Credit.
Other benefits and Universal Credit
There are a range of other benefits you can claim at the same time as Universal Credit. These include, new style Jobseeker’s Allowance, new style Employment and Support Allowance, Carers Allowance and Maternity Allowance.
For every £1 you have coming in from these and some other benefits your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by £1.
If you take out a Universal Credit Advance payment
When you first claim for Universal Credit, you can request up to a full month’s payment as an advance. This will have to be repaid over the next 12 months.
These repayments will be deducted from your Universal Credit payments.
Universal Credit and the benefit cap
Universal Credit is affected by the benefit cap. This limits the maximum you can get in benefits to:
- £1,916.67 a month for couples and lone parents if you live in London
- £1,666.67 a month for couples and lone parents outside London
- £1,284.17 a month for single person with no children in London
- £1,116.67 a month for a single person with no children outside London
Some people won’t have the benefit cap applied, for example, if you’re working or have a disability.
How do sanctions affect Universal Credit
If you fail to meet the responsibilities in your claimant commitment you will be sanctioned and have your Universal Credit payment cut.
How much this reduces your payment by and for how long depends on what the sanction is for and if you’ve been sanctioned before.
Universal Credit calculator
It’s difficult to give an exact figure on how much Universal Credit you will receive before you make an application. Here are some calculators which can help you get an idea.
Use a benefits calculator on the GOV.UK websiteopens in new window
to estimate all your entitlements including Universal Credit.