Universal Credit


  • one monthly payment incorporating different elements (such as personal allowances and child/housing elements)
  • tricky to backdate, claim as soon as possible if entitled/better off
  • to qualify, be aged 16 or over, have capital/savings of less than £16,000, not be subject to immigration control, have the right to reside in the UK
  • replaces all legacy benefits – once claimed, cannot reclaim old ‘legacy’ benefits – see our Benefits Checklist page
  • Citizens Advice provide a national Help To Claim service to support new claimants with better-off calculations, applications and support up until first correct payment

Universal Credit can top up income from work or other benefits if you have no other income. You do not need to work a certain number of hours to claim Universal Credit but you are expected to work or look for work as many hours as you are able to unless you are more than 29 weeks pregnant, or you are the main carer of a child under 3. You may be able to claim Universal Credit if you are employed, unemployed or during your maternity leave.

Universal Credit is made up of the following elements:

  • A standard allowance, and extra elements for children (up to two child elements can be paid)
  • additional needs including disability and caring responsibilities,
  • help with housing costs, and help with childcare costs (see below)

How much Universal Credit will you be paid?

The amount of Universal Credit you are paid depends on how many of the elements above you are eligible for and your monthly household income. Income includes:

 – actual earnings (after tax) including Statutory Sick Pay and Statutory Maternity Pay. Some or all of these earnings may be ignored if the work allowance applies to you.

 – most contributory benefits such as new-style Jobseeker’s Allowance, New-Style Employment Support Allowance and Maternity Allowance are taken into account in full. Carer’s Allowance is also taken into account as income, but you may be entitled to an additional carer element.

 – some income from student loans and grants.

Child Benefit and child maintenance payments are not taken into account as income.

Citizens Advice Help To Claim Advisers can help you with the early stages of you claim by phone or online chat if you have not claimed before or have not received your first correct payment. 

Contact them about making a Universal Credit application here.

If you are already getting Universal Credit, Citizens Advice have lots more up-to-date information here. 

Alternatively, if you are not currently receiving Universal Credit or are waiting for you first correct payment and have any questions give the Help to Claim team a call on:

0800 144 8 444