What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a new means-tested benefit for people who are looking for work or who are on a low income. As well as being a cash benefit, It may entitle you to budgeting advances (loans to help pay for essential items or services), free prescriptions and dental treatment, housing grants, free school meals and help with hospital fares
In time, Universal Credit will replace the following current means-tested benefits:
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
Who can claim Universal Credit?
You can currently claim Universal Credit if you’re:
- a single person anywhere in England, Wales and Scotland
- a couple or family living in certain areas - you can find out if your area is included at gov.uk, the government services and information website.
To get Universal Credit you must:
- be 18 or over
- be under State Pension age
- not be in full time education or training
- not have savings over £16,000
You’ll get less Universal Credit if you have savings over £6,000 or earn enough money to cover your basic living costs.
If you live with your partner you’ll need to make a joint claim as a couple. Your partner’s income and savings will be taken into account, even if they aren’t eligible for Universal Credit.
How do I make a claim for Universal Credit?
You normally claim Universal Credit online and then attend a face-to-face interview.
If you need help, you can call the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723 (telephone) or 0345 600 0743 (textphone).
Your Claimant Commitment
You’ll have to accept a ‘Claimant Commitment’ if you want to get Universal Credit.
This is an agreement that you’ll complete certain work-related tasks, such as preparing for work and searching for a job.
What you agree to do will depend on things such as your health, your responsibilities at home and how much help you need to get work or increase your income.
How much Universal Credit will I get?
The amount of Universal Credit you receive depends on your circumstances. It's worked out on a monthly basis by comparing your needs with your resources. Set amounts for different financial needs are added together to arrive at a figure called your maximum amount.
This is the basic amount the law says you need to live on each month. From this figure amounts are deducted for any earnings and other income you receive (including other benefits), or if you have capital or savings over £6,000. The resulting amount will be your Universal Credit for that month. This may be restricted by the benefit cap which is currently:
- £384.62 per week (£20,000 a year) if you live outside Greater London and you’re in a couple, whether your children live with you or not, or if you’re single and your children live with you
- £257.69 per week (£13,400 a year) if you live outside Greater London and you’re single and you don’t have children, or your children don’t live with you
- £442.31 per week (£23,000 a year) if you live inside Greater London and you’re in a couple, whether your children live with you or not, or if you’re single and your children live with you
- £296.35 per week (£15,410 a year) if live inside Greater London and you’re single and you don’t have children, or your children don’t live with you.
You can find out more about Universal Credit and make a claim online at gov.uk
Or see our factsheet Universal Credit