If you’re out of work or on a low income, you may be able to claim Universal Credit to boost the money you have coming in.
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a new means-tested benefit. It’s gradually being introduced nationally and will eventually replace these benefits:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit.
If you currently receive these benefits, you will continue to receive payments as normal for the time being. Your local Jobcentre Plus or Tax Credits office will let you know when your benefit will be replaced by Universal Credit.
How much could I get?
The amount of Universal Credit you get will depend on a number of factors, such as the amount of hours you work, how much you earn, or how much savings you have.
The basic standard allowances for Universal Credit are:
- £317.82 per month if you’re single
- £498.89 per month if you’re a couple.
On top of the standard allowance, you may be entitled to extra money if you have:
- housing costs
- a disability or a health condition
- caring responsibilities for a disabled person
- dependent children
- childcare costs.
Universal Credit is paid monthly. The payment you get each month will depend on how much you earned in the previous month and on your changing circumstances.
Am I eligible for Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is gradually being rolled out across the UK, and is already available nationwide for single people. However, for couples and families, Universal Credit is currently only available in certain areas.
To claim Universal Credit, you must:
- be under State Pension age
- have a low income
- have savings below £16,000
- not be studying or training full-time
- accept a ‘Claimant Commitment’.
You can’t claim Universal Credit if you’re already receiving certain benefits, such as Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or income-related Employment and Support Allowance. If you are claiming these benefits, you will be moved to Universal Credit in the future.
If you're a mixed age couple, meaning one person is over Pension Credit qualifying age and the other person is younger than this, you have currently a choice whether to claim Pension Credit or Universal Credit. For most people, it is better to claim PC as your income is likely to be higher and you are not subject to UC work seeking conditions.
However, from 15 May 2019, the rules will change so that both members of a couple will have to reach Pension Credit qualifying age to claim it. Existing mixed aged couples claiming Pension Credit at the date of the change will stay on it. Mixed aged couples making a new claim after this change will have to claim Universal Credit until they both reach Pension Credit qualifying age.
Find out if you are over Pension Credit qualifying age on GOV.UK.
How do I claim Universal Credit?
If you’re single
If you’re in a couple or have a family
- Check if Universal Credit is available in your area by using one of the following options:
- If Universal Credit is available for couples and families in your area:
- fill out the online claim form on GOV.UK
- you and your partner may need to make a joint claim
What happens next?
Your online claim will be followed by a face-to-face interview with a work coach at your local Jobcentre Plus.
During your interview, you’ll have to agree to certain conditions, called a ‘Claimant Commitment’. This sets out what you must do so you can receive Universal Credit. It often includes a job search plan to help you get back to work or earn more income.
These conditions will depend on your health, your responsibilities, and your circumstances. If you don’t meet the conditions, your benefit may be reduced or stopped.
If you need help filling out the form or have any questions, call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 (or textphone 0800 328 1344).
If you don’t feel confident about claiming online, ask your local Age UK for help or call Age UK Advice on 0800 055 6112.
What should I do next?
What benefits can you claim?
Do you know what benefits you are entitled to? Find out exactly what you are owed, quickly and easily, using Age UK's benefits calculator.