Universal Credit

Universal Credit replaces a number of income-related benefits. It is a payment for people who are on a low income or looking for work.

It replaces:

  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

If you get one of these benefits, you will be transferred to Universal Credit at some point.

Universal Credit is for people:

  • aged 18 or over (or 16 or 17 in certain cases)
  • under State Pension age
  • living in the UK
  • not in education
  • who accept a claimant commitment (an agreement about your responsibilities).

Between now and the end of 2017, Universal Credit is gradually being introduced in England, Scotland and Wales. Contact a welfare rights adviser on 0808 808 00 00 for more information.

In Northern Ireland, Universal Credit is expected to be introduced from September 2017.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit (UC) is a new benefit that is gradually being introduced for people under retirement age who are either:

  • out of work
  • on a low income.

It can include money for basic living, looking after children and housing.

In Northern Ireland, UC is expected to be introduced from September 2017.


Benefits being replaced by Universal Credit

UC is replacing six other benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

If you currently get any of these benefits, you will be reassessed for UC. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or the Department for Communities (DfC) will contact you to change your claim. You do not need to do anything until then.


Is Universal Credit available in my area?

UC is not available everywhere yet. It is gradually being introduced to different people and areas across the UK:

  • In England, Scotland and Wales – it is being introduced between now and the end of 2017.
  • In Northern Ireland – it is being introduced between September 2017 and September 2018.

Whether you should claim UC or another benefit will depend on your situation and where you live. To find out more, speak to a welfare rights adviser or visit one of the following websites:

  • If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, visit gov.uk
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, visit nidirect.gov.uk.


Who can claim

To claim UC, you must:

  • live in an area where it is available
  • be aged 18 or over (or 16 or over in certain cases)
  • not be in education
  • accept an agreement called a claimant commitment.

If you live with someone as a couple, you will need to include their details on the claim form. This is called making a joint claim. Both of your savings, income and earnings will be considered.

Before claiming UC, make sure you have applied for any contribution-based benefits you may be able to get. Speak to a welfare rights adviser for advice.

Claimant commitment

Your claimant commitment is a record of the responsibilities you will have if you get UC. It is usually written by your local Jobcentre Plus, with your agreement, when you apply.

The claimant commitment is based on your individual situation. For example, if you currently have a limited ability to work but are expected to get better, your claimant commitment might state that you should prepare for work as much as you can. You may want to speak to your health or social care professional for advice about which activities you could do. If you are too unwell to work at all, you will not be expected to prepare for work.


How much you could get

The amount of UC you get depends on your income and circumstances. It may also depend on the income and circumstances of people living with you.

In England, Scotland and Wales these are the current standard monthly rates:

ClaimantMonthly allowance rate
Single person aged under 25£251.77
Single person aged 25 or over£317.82
Joint claimants aged under 25£395.20
Joint claimants aged 25 or over£498.89


Extra payments

UC also gives extra payments (called elements) for people in certain situations. You may get the following elements:

  • The child element if you are responsible for a child who lives with you. This generally means a child aged under 16. In some cases, it could mean a young person aged 16 to 19 who is in full-time education or doing certain training. Extra money is added for any child or young person who has a disability. You can only get this element for two children.
  • The childcare element if you pay for childcare so that you can stay in work.
  • The limited capability for work elements. There is one element for people who have a limited ability to work. There is another element for people who have both a limited ability to work and a limited ability to do work-related activities. This second element has a higher payment and is similar to being in the support group for Employment Support Allowance.
  • The carer element if you look after someone who is severely disabled. You must be judged to have regular and considerable caring duties. You can either get the carer element or the limited capability for work element but not both – you will get whichever is greater.
  • The housing element if you meet certain criteria. It helps with rent or mortgage payments.

Qualifying for UC may make you eligible for other help, such as free prescriptions and free school meals.


How to claim

Contact our welfare rights advisers on 0808 808 00 00 for more information about UC and whether you can claim.

If you think you might be eligible for UC and want to make a claim:

  • If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, visit gov.uk or call the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723.
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, Universal Credit is expected to gradually become available in different areas from September 2017. You can find out more at nidirect.gov.uk

Back to If you are unable to work or on a low income

Support from your work

You may be able to get financial help from the government if you are unable to work because of cancer.

Employment and Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance is a benefit for people under retirement age who cannot work because of illness or disability.

Income Support

Income Support is a benefit that helps people on a low income pay basic living costs.

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit (WTC) is for people aged from 16 to retirement age who work but have a low income or disability.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Jobseeker’s Allowance can give you a weekly income if you are unemployed and able to work.