What is Universal Credit?

Universal credit is a financial benefit payment which is funded and paid by the UK government.

It exists to support people on a low income or who need help with living costs.

The universal credit system replaces the following six tax credits and benefits:

  • Child tax credit.
  • Working tax credit.
  • Income support.
  • Housing benefit.
  • Income based job seekers allowance.
  • Income related employment and support allowance.

The DWP are calling these benefits and tax credits legacy benefits because they are gradually being replaced by universal credit.

If you were in receipt of any legacy benefits or tax credits before the start of universal credit system the DWP (department work and pensions) may ask you to move to universal credit.

You should not need to take any action if your circumstances don’t change and you are not asked by the DWP to migrate to universal credit.

Can I claim universal credit?

To be eligible to claim universal credit you must meet certain criteria.

You must:

  • Live in the UK.
  • Be aged 18 or older with some exceptions for 16 and 17 year olds.
  • Be aged under the state pension age (which varies and can change).
  • Own £16,000 in cash, savings or investments.

If you live with a partner they will need to claim universal credit as well even if they are not eligible. This is because how much you may receive will depend on your partner’s circumstances and not just your own.

Calculating universal credit

Calculating the value of universal credit for you depends on your own set of circumstances including anyone else that lives in your household.

There are a number of criteria which effect how much universal credit you will be granted.

It’s a good idea to check to see what you may be due before making a claim for universal credit so you can

You can calculate what you may be entitled to by using a benefits calculator which is free and anonymous to use.

You can calculate the value of your universal credit claim and  find out what will happen if you increase your work hours or your circumstances change in a different way after you have claimed.

Universal credit standard allowance

The universal credit standard allowance will be paid once per household on a monthly basis. Your age and living arrangements effect how much universal credit you will be rewarded.

If you are living with a partner the monthly universal credit payment covers both claimants in your household.

  • Single and aged under 25: £311.68.
  • Single and aged 25 or over: £393.45.
  • Living with your partner and you are both aged under 25: £489.23.
  • Living with your partner and either you or your partner are  25 or over: £617.60.

Universal credit and children

For eligible applicants with children you can receive an extra amount of universal credit.

  • First child £333.33 (born before 6 April 2017) and £287.92 (born on or after 6 April 2017) per month.
  • Second child and other eligible children £287.92 per child per month.

If you have a child that is disabled you will be eligible for an extra amount with no limit to the number of children you have.

  • Higher rate £487.58 if your child is disabled.
  • Lower rate £156.11 if your child disabled.

Universal credit childcare costs

Universal credit can cover 85% of the cost of childcare including after school, breakfast and holiday clubs.

To be eligible you must be working and if you live with a partner they must be working too (unless they are unable to look after your children).

The maximum amount you can claim back for childcare costs is £1014.63 for one child and £1739.37 for two or more children per month.

Universal credit and students

Students or a person in training may qualify for universal credit.

To qualify for universal credit as a student you must be:

  • In full time education.
  • Legally responsible for a child.
  • Living in the same house as your partner who is eligible for universal credit.
  • State pension age and live with a partner who is below state pension age.

If you are under the age of 21 a claim for universal credit is possible if you are studying for any qualification up to A level (or equivalent) and don’t have parental support.

A claim may also be possible if you are doing a course or studying part time and a student loan or finance option is not available.

Claiming universal credit

Claiming universal credit can be done online by creating an online account which you must use within 28 days or you will need to start the process again.

If you are making a joint claim with your partner both of you will need to create a universal credit account.

To claim universal credit online you will need:

  • your bank, building society or credit union account details
  • an email address and access to a phone
  • For proof of identity purposes a like a passport, drivers licence, P60 or debit card.

You can start the universal credit claim process online here and if you have have made a claim before and want to make a new one you can use your previous universal credit login information.

A claim can also be made via the universal credit phone helpline.

To complete the process you will need information about your financial circumstances including:

  • How much rent you pay.
  • Current income.
  • Childcare costs.
  • Savings and investments.

Help with your universal credit claim

You can call the universal credit helpline for assistance and citizens advice offer support through their help to claim service.

Universal credit helpline number 0800 328 5644.

Citizens advice help to claim service can be contacted on 0800 144 8 444. Citizens advice have trained advisors who can help you check your eligibility, collect necessary documents and complete your online application.


Back to Top
Back to Top