Universal Credit

Universal Credit replaces a number of income-related benefits in England, Scotland and Wales. 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
  • and 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).

Universal Credit is gradually being introduced in England, Scotland and Wales. The government has a target for this to be completed by 2017. Contact a welfare rights adviser on 0808 808 00 00 for more information.

The Northern Ireland the introduction of Universal Credit is still under consideration. To find out about Universal Credit in Northern Ireland, check nidirect.gov.uk

Universal Credit

Universal Credit (UC) is a new benefit for people below State Pension age who are either:

  • out of work
  • on a low income.

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

UC is replacing certain other benefits. It is not available everywhere yet. It is gradually being introduced in different areas, and to different groups, between now and 2017.

Whether you should claim Universal Credit or another benefit will depend on your situation and the area you live in.

Who can claim UC

To claim UC, you must:

  • live in an area where UC is available (see above)
  • be aged 18 or over (or 16 or 17 in certain cases)
  • not be in education
  • accept an agreement called a claimant commitment.

If you have a partner, you’ll 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.

Claimant commitment

Your claimant commitment is a record of the responsibilities you’ll have if you get UC. It is usually written up 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’re able to. If you are too unwell to work altogether, you will not be expected to prepare for work.

How much you’ll get

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 (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, but in some cases it could mean a young person aged 16–19 who is in full-time education or doing certain training. Extra money is added for any child or qualifying young person who has a disability.

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.

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’. These activities might include preparing a CV or attending a training course or work placement. The second element has a higher payment.

The housing element helps with rent or mortgage payments, if you meet certain criteria.

Benefits being replaced by Universal Credit

UC is gradually replacing six means-tested benefits:

Universal Credit
Universal Credit

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If you’re currently receiving any of these six benefits, you’ll have your claims transferred to UC at some point. When this will happen depends on where you live. The amount of money you get won’t be reduced when this happens, as long as your circumstances stay the same.

The DWP will contact you to change your claim. You don’t need to do anything until then.

How to claim

Contact our welfare rights advisers on 0808 808 00 00 for more information about Universal Credit and whether it is suitable for your situation.

If you think you might be eligible for Universal Credit and want to make a claim, visit gov.uk/apply-universal-credit or call the DWP’s Universal Credit helpline on 0845 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.