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 receive 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 will be introduced during 2017 To find out about Universal Credit in Northern Ireland, visit nidirect.gov.uk.

What is Universal Credit?

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

  • out of work
  • on a low income.

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

Benefits being replaced by Universal Credit

UC is replacing six other benefits:

Universal Credit
Universal Credit

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If you currently get any of these benefits, you will eventually be reassessed for UC. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will contact you to change your claim. You don’t need to do anything until then.

Is Universal Credit available in my area?

UC is not available everywhere yet. It is gradually being introduced in different areas, and to different groups of people. Whether you should claim UC or another benefit will depend on your situation and the area you live in. To find out more in England, Wales and Scotland visit gov.uk. Universal Credit will be introduced in Northern Ireland during 2017.

Who can claim

To claim UC, you must:

  • live in an area where UC 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’ (see below).

If you have a partner, you will need to make a joint claim for UC. If your partner doesn’t meet the requirements, they won’t be considered in the amount of UC you get. But both of your savings, income and earnings will be taken into account.

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 are able to. You may want to speak to your health or social care professional for advice about what activities would be suitable for you. If you are too unwell to work at all, you will not be expected to prepare for work.

How much you will 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.

These are the standard monthly rates for UC:

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. From April 2017, the child element will be limited to two children per claimant.
  • The childcare element if you pay for childcare in order to stay in work.
  • The carer element if you look after someone who is severely disabled. You must be judged to have regular and substantial caring duties. You can either get the carer element or the limited capability for work element (see below) but not both – you will get whichever is greater.
  • 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 ESA.
  • The housing element helps with rent or mortgage payments, if you meet certain criteria.

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 it is suitable for your situation.

If you think you might be eligible for UC and want to make a claim, visit gov.uk or call the DWP’s Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723.

Back to Working age benefits

Jobseeker's Allowance

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