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Universal Credit

If you're on a low income or you're out of work, you might be able to claim Universal Credit to help you cover your living costs.

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit that's paid monthly. It's designed to help you if you're on a low income or out of work.

It started being rolled out in December 2018. It'll eventually replace the following 'legacy' 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 any of these benefits, you'll continue to get them as normal for the time being. Your local Jobcentre Plus or Tax Credit Office will let you know when your benefit is due to be replaced by Universal Credit.

If you're making a new claim, you'll usually need to claim Universal Credit instead of any of the above legacy benefits.

How much Universal Credit could I get?

The amount of Universal Credit you might get depends on a few different things, such as how much you earn or how much you have in savings.

It may also vary depending on how much you earned in the month before, and whether your circumstances have changed.

The basic standard Universal Credit allowances are:

  • £334.91 per month if you’re single
  • £525.72 per month if you’re a couple.

On top of the standard allowance, you might be entitled to extra money if you have:

  • housing costs
  • a health condition or disability
  • caring responsibilities for a disabled person
  • dependent children
  • childcare costs.

Am I eligible for Universal Credit?

To claim Universal Credit, you need to:

  • live in the UK
  • be under State Pension age
  • have a low income or be out of work 
  • have savings below £16,000
  • accept a ‘claimant commitment’.

A claimant commitment outlines what you'll be required to do in return for receiving Universal Credit. It's based on your individual circumstances.

You can't claim Universal Credit if you’re already receiving the following 'legacy' benefits:

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

If you receive these benefits, you'll be told when it's time for you to start claiming Universal Credit instead.

If you're a mixed-age couple

If you're a mixed-aged couple (one of you is over State Pension age and the other is under), you'll need to claim Universal Credit rather than Pension Credit if you're making a new claim.

If you're a mixed-age couple and you already receive Pension Credit, you can keep doing so for as long as you remain entitled to it. You can find out whether you're over Pension Credit qualifying age on GOV.UK.

What extra money are you entitled to?

Do you know what benefits you are entitled to? Our Benefits Calculator can help you, quickly and easily, to find out what you could be claiming.

How do I claim Universal Credit?

To claim Universal Credit, fill out the online claim form.

You'll then normally be invited to a face-to-face interview with a work coach at your local Jobcentre Plus.

During your interview, you’ll need to agree to certain conditions (this is known as making a 'claim commitment'). For example, you might have to agree to a job search plan to help you get back to work or increase your income.

The conditions of the claim commitment depend on your health, your responsibilities and your circumstances.

If you don't meet the conditions, your benefit might be reduced or stopped.

Need help?

If you need help filling out the form, or you 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.

We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 125 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Apr 13 2022

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