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 (See ‘What is Universal Credit?’ section above).
How do I claim Universal Credit?
If you’re single
Fill out the online claim form on GOV.UK
If you’re in a couple or have a family
Step 1: Check if Universal Credit is available in your area by using one of the following options:
- Check the Universal Credit availability map tool of the Department of Work and pensions
- Check the list of eligible Jobcentre areas on the GOV.UK website
Step 2: 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 0345 600 0723 (or textphone 0345 600 0743).
If you don’t feel confident about claiming online, ask your local Age UK for help or call Age UK Advice on 0800 169 65 65.
What should I do next?
Find out which benefits you're entitled to claim
What extra money are you entitled to?
On average, our benefits calculator identifies an extra £250 per month for each person. How much money could you claim?
For more information call Age UK on 0800 055 6112