Check how much Universal Credit you'll get
It's hard to work out your exact Universal Credit amount, but you can get a general idea. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need to calculate it in more detail.
There are 5 steps:
- look up your standard amount
- add any other amounts you can get, like housing or childcare - these are called 'elements'
- make reductions for your income and capital
- take away any sanctions or other reductions
- check if the Benefit Cap applies to you
Your Universal Credit payment can change each month if you earn a different amount, or if your circumstances change.
1. Look up your standard amount
Your standard amount depends on your age and if you live with your partner. If you live with your partner you'll have a joint claim and get one shared payment.
|Your circumstances||Standard amount|
|Single and under 25||£251.77|
|Single and 25 or over||£317.82|
|Joint claim, both under 25||£395.20|
|Joint claim, one or both 25 or over||£498.89|
When you turn 25 you'll get the increase in your next Universal Credit payment.
You should tell the DWP if you move in with or split up with your partner - your next Universal Credit payment will be different. Find out more about reporting changes that affect your Universal Credit.
2. Work out what other amounts you can get
You can have extra amounts added to your Universal Credit payment for:
- caring for someone
- not being able to work because of sickness or disability
These extra amounts are called 'elements', and you can get more than 1 of them. They're added to your standard amount.
If you're paying rent, mortgage or service charge
The housing costs element might pay some or all of your rent or service charge. The amount you can get depends on your local council.
If you have a mortgage or home loan you might be able to get a loan to help pay your interest - this is separate from Universal Credit.
To get the housing element you need to:
- live in Great Britain
- pay the housing costs for where you live
- usually be 22 or older
If you're 18 to 21 you can't normally get the housing element, but ask the Jobcentre if any exceptions apply to you. Tell the Jobcentre about your housing costs even if no exception applies, as they might change this rule in the future.
Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need more advice on your housing costs.
What the housing element won't pay for
You can't get housing element for:
- debts if you're behind on your rent on your current or previous home
- a care home
- ground rent
If you're in temporary or emergency housing
You'll need to claim Housing Benefit if you're having to live away from your usual home. For example, you might be paying for a shelter after experiencing domestic violence.
You'll keep getting Universal Credit, but you'll get a separate Housing Benefit payment rather than the Universal Credit housing element.
If you're in a shared ownership scheme
You'll normally be paying mortgage and rent. Universal Credit can help with your rent, but not your mortgage. You'll need to see if you can get a loan to help with your mortgage interest.
Getting more help with housing costs
You might be able to get a extra money from the council if you're behind on your payments or your housing element doesn't cover all your rent.
If you have children
You'll get the child element if you're responsible for a child who normally lives with you. You'll get extra amounts for a second child and if any of your children are disabled.
A child is anyone under 16, or someone under 20 who's in full-time, non-advanced education, for example at school or college.
Your oldest child, if born before 6 April 2017
Your oldest child, if born on or after 6 April 2017
Your second child - and each eligible child after that
If one of your children is disabled
If one of your children is severely disabled
Getting a payment for 3 or more children
You'll usually only get a Universal Credit payment for 3 or more children if they were born before 6 April 2017 and you're already claiming Universal Credit.
There are some exceptions - you might still get a payment for 3 or more children if you:
- have a multiple birth - if you have other children born before 6 April 2017 you won't get a payment for the first child in a multiple birth
- are adopting a child from the UK (unless you were the child's step-parent immediately before adopting them)
- are caring for someone else's child under a 'special guardianship arrangement'
- have a child from a pregnancy that was likely to be from rape or a controlling relationship
- are responsible for a child under 16 who has their own child and they both live with you
If any of your children are disabled
You'll get a disability payment if any of your children are disabled. You won't be affected by a maximum total amount you can get from benefits - called the 'benefit cap'.
Your Universal Credit payment will include a disability payment for each child who's disabled. It doesn't matter how many children you have.
You'll get the severely disabled child element if one of your children is entitled to either:
- the higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (if your child is under 16)
- the enhanced rate of Personal Independence Payment (if your child is 16 or over)
- registered blind
You'll get the disabled child element if one of your children is entitled to either:
- Disability Living Allowance without the higher rate care component
- Personal Independence Payment without the enhanced rate
If you pay for childcare
Your Universal Credit payments can include 85% of your childcare costs. You can't get this if your childcare provider isn't registered or if your employer pays your childcare for you.
The most you can get is £646.35 a month for 1 child or £1,108.04 a month for 2 or more.
You can claim childcare costs if you:
- are in paid work
- are starting paid work in the next month
- left a job less than a month ago
- are on sick leave
- are on any kind of parental leave
Your child is eligible for childcare costs up to 1 September after their 16th birthday.
If you're living with your partner you'll both need to be working to get childcare costs - unless your partner can't provide childcare because they:
- have limited capability for work
- are caring for a severely disabled person - they'll need to be getting or eligible for Carer's Allowance
- are temporarily away from home
Reporting childcare costs
Each month you'll need to tell the DWP what you've paid in childcare. 85% of this will then be added to your next Universal Credit payment.
Ask your childcare provider for their registration number - give this to the DWP when you report the childcare costs.
Report your costs as soon as you can to make sure you get paid back. The deadline and the way you report depends on whether you have a Universal Credit online account.
If you have an online account, use it to report your childcare costs. You'll need to report each payment before the day you get your next Universal Credit payment.
If you don't have an online account, report your childcare costs by calling the Universal Credit helpline:
Universal Credit helpline (live service)
Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Calls to these numbers are free.
You have until a month after your next Universal Credit payment to report each childcare payment.
If you report your childcare costs late, tell the Jobcentre why you couldn't report them on time - for example if you were ill or away from home. You'll still be paid if they agree you couldn't tell them earlier.
If you're sick or disabled
You might get an extra payment if you have a health condition that means you can't work. You'll need to show the DWP that you have 'limited capability for work' (LCW) or 'limited capability for work-related activity' (LCWRA).
You'll only get 1 extra payment if you and your partner are both sick or disabled.
If you're getting a payment for being a carer you can't get a payment for sickness or disability as well - you'll get whichever is higher.
How much you'll get
If you have LCWRA you'll get an extra £328.32 a month, and the DWP won't set a maximum amount for what you can get in benefits - called the 'Benefit Cap'.
You won't normally get extra money if you have LCW. The exception is that you'll get an extra £126.11 if you've been sick since before 3 April 2017 and the DWP have already said you have LCW. This could have been for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance.
When you'll get the extra amount
The extra amount will start in your next Universal Credit payment if you already had LCW or LCWRA from a previous benefit claim.
Otherwise you'll get the extra payment from 3 months after the DWP agree you have LCWRA. If it takes longer the DWP will backdate your payment so you don't lose out.
If you're a carer
You'll get an extra £156.45 a month if you look after a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours a week.
It's worth telling the person you look after about your claim - they could lose some of their benefits if you get the extra amount.
You won't get extra money if you're employed as a carer.
The person you care for must be getting one of these benefits:
- Attendance Allowance
- the standard or enhanced rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
- the highest or middle rate care component of Disability Living Allowance
- Constant Attendance Allowance paid with a war disablement pension or industrial injuries benefits
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
You can't get a carer payment as well as a payment for sickness or disability - you'll get whichever is higher.
If you have a joint claim you can get 2 carer payments if you and your partner are caring for different people.
3. Make reductions for your income and capital
You'll get less Universal Credit if you get money from work or other sources, or if you have more than £6,000 in savings.
Check the effect of your earnings from work
If you're self-employed
There are different rules for earnings if you're self-employed. Find out more about getting Universal Credit if you're self-employed.
Your Universal Credit decreases gradually as you earn more - it won't suddenly stop if your pay or hours reach a certain level.
Each full £1 you or your partner earn reduces your Universal Credit by 63p.
You can get some income without reducing your Universal Credit payment if you're responsible for a child or have limited capability for work. This is called having a 'work allowance'.
The size of your work allowance depends on whether you also get the Universal Credit housing element:
|Your situation||Your work allowance|
|You get the housing element||£198|
|You don't get the housing element||
Zoe earns £900 a month. Without a work allowance her whole income reduces her Universal Credit by 63p for each £1 she earns. This would reduce her Universal Credit by 900 x 63p = £567.
She looks after her young child, and doesn't get the Universal Credit housing element. This means she gets a work allowance of £409.
The work allowance means £409 of Zoe's income is ignored, leaving £491 that will reduce her Universal Credit payment. This means her payment is reduced by 491 x 63p = £309.33.
Earnings from work means all pay you take home, including:
- wages and overtime
- tips and commission
- holiday pay
- sick pay
- maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental pay
You don't need to include:
- money you pay as income tax
- money you pay as class 1 national insurance
- money you pay into a pension
- mileage allowances
- childcare vouchers and other non-cash vouchers
The DWP work out your earnings for each monthly Universal Credit payment, even if your job doesn't pay you monthly. You should tell the DWP if you start or leave a job - find out more about changes you should report to the DWP.
Work out if your capital makes a difference
If you have more than £6,000 of capital it will reduce your Universal Credit payment. The DWP will take off £4.35 a month for each £250 (or part of £250) of capital above £6,000.
You'll no longer be eligible for Universal Credit if you have £16,000 or more in capital.
Capital includes things like savings, interest, property and shares. It doesn't include:
- personal possessions
- business assets
- your home, if you own it
Niamh has £7,700 in savings. This is £1,700 over £6,000 - which is 6 full lots of £250 and one partial £250. This means the her savings reduce her Universal Credit by 7 x £4.35 = £30.45
Take away some other types of income
Your Universal Credit will be reduced by the same amount you get from certain types of income. These include:
- pensions or annuities
- maintenance from a current or former partner (though not child maintenance - this never reduces your Universal Credit)
- insurance payments
- some benefits, such as Carer's Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Maternity Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseeker's Allowance
You don't need to take off income from some benefits, including:
- Child Benefit
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- war pensions
If your income and capital reduce your payment to zero
This will end your Universal Credit claim - the Jobcentre will tell you if this happens.
You'll need to make a new claim if your earnings later drop and you want to get Universal Credit again. You can do this by signing back into your online account. If you don't have a Universal Credit account you might need to claim other benefits instead - check if you're eligible for Universal Credit.
4. Take off sanctions and other reductions
The DWP might take money off your Universal Credit payments for:
- money the DWP have given you early, such as an advance payment or budgeting advance
- child maintenance payments
- to pay off debts for utility bills
- benefit fraud
Find out more about reductions to your Universal Credit payment.
5. Apply the Benefit Cap
If your remaining payment is over a certain amount, the DWP might reduce it to bring it down to a maximum called the 'Benefit Cap'.