How much Universal Credit will I get?
If you qualify for Universal Credit, the amount you'll get will be made up of both a standard allowance and extra payments, depending on your personal circumstances, but it may also be reduced. On this page we break down how to calculate what Universal Credit you might get.
One of the underlying principles of the Universal Credit benefit is that it's a payment based on need. It helps if you think about Universal Credit as like a set of scales:
- On one side, you get your standard allowance along with extra payments based on what you need to meet your basic costs.
On the other side, these payments are reduced if you have savings, income from work, get other benefits, or don't fulfil one of your work obligations.
As a result, two people the same age and earning similar amounts could easily be entitled to vastly different amounts based on extra help the Government thinks each needs.
As a starting point there's a standard allowance, based on age and whether you're single or in a couple. If you're eligible for Universal Credit, this is the basic amount you'll get (before any extras or reductions).
Here's a table showing the Universal Credit standard allowance for 2023/24:
|Single and under 25||£292.11|
|Single and 25 or over||£368.74
|In a couple and both under 25||£458.51|
|In a couple and either of you is 25 or over||£578.82|
Over eight million households on benefits will get cash payments as part of the Government's cost of living support package. We cover who's eligible and how much you'll get in our Help if you're struggling guide.
In addition, Universal Credit offers some people extra help for any of the following (click the links to skip to the content):
If you rent, you'll be able to get an extra payment on top of your standard allowance, to help with your monthly accommodation costs.
For example, the amount for two-bedroom accommodation in the London borough of Ealing is £365.92 a week. The amount for a two-bedroom accommodation in the Isle of Scilly is £143.84 a week. Want to see what you could get? Check your area's rates.
On top of this, you may also be able to get help with your council tax bill – though this isn't automatic, you'll need to apply.
There will be an LHA rate set based on rental prices in your area and the number of rooms you need based on who lives in your household.
If you are single, don't have any dependent children and are aged under 35, you will only be able to get the 'shared accommodation rate' of LHA.
This won't apply and you'll be entitled to the 'one-bedroom rate' if:
- You are under 22 and a care leaver, or
- You are receiving the 'daily living component' of personal independence payment, the 'middle or high care rate' of disability living allowance, or armed forces independence payment, or
- You are over 25 and have been living in a hostel for people who are homeless for three months or more
Otherwise, you will be entitled to one bedroom for each of the following:
- You (and your partner if you have one)
- Any other person over 16, as long as they aren't living with you as your tenant
- Two children under 16 of the same gender
- Two children under 10
- Any other child under 16
For both the 'shared accommodation rate' and regular rate, you can find your LHA for your area using the Government's tool.
What about any help if you own your home?
If you qualify for Universal Credit, it doesn't automatically mean that you can get help with your council tax, but you can apply to your council for a 'council tax reduction'. This is a long-standing discount of up to 100% off bills for those on benefits or a low income. It doesn't matter if you own your own home or rent, or whether you're employed or not. All can apply. Yet what you get depends on:
- Where you live (each council runs its own scheme)
- Your circumstances (for example, income, number of children, benefits, residency status)
- Your income, including savings, pensions and your partner's income
- If children live with you
- If other adults live with you
For more information see the discounts section of our Council tax discounts guide.
If you qualify for Universal Credit, after nine months you can apply for support for mortgage interest (SMI) on up to £200,000 of your mortgage, based on a standard rate of interest – currently 2.09%. This money is paid directly to your lender. This is a loan and not a benefit – this means it must be repaid when you die or sell your home. For more information, see the Gov.uk website.
If you are having difficulty meeting your mortgage payments, you should urgently speak to your lender and see what support it can offer you.
More help can be found in our Mortgage arrears guide.
If you're looking after a child under the age of 16, you can apply for an extra amount to help with the costs. If you have two children, you'll get extra for your second child. If you have three children you might get an extra payment, but it depends on when they were born.
For your first child:
- £315 a month (born before 6 April 2017)
- £269.58 a month (born on or after 6 April 2017)
For your second child (and any other eligible children):
- £269.58 a month per child
If you have three or more children, you only get an extra amount if any of the following are true:
- They were born before 6 April 2017, and
- You were already claiming for three or more children before 6 April 2017
If you have a disabled or severely disabled child, you get an additional payment:
- £146.31 a month or £456.89 a month (for a severely disabled child)
In Scotland? If you claim Universal Credit (among other means-tested benefits) you could get an extra £25 a week for every child you care for under the age of 16. See more in our 10-min benefits check guide.
In work? Universal Credit can also help with up to 85% towards childcare costs
If you're in work, Universal Credit can offer additional help by paying back up to 85% of your childcare costs, no matter how many hours you work. You can get a maximum of £951 for one child and £1,630 for two or more children. You can make the claim through your Universal Credit account and you will need to provide receipts.
You'll need to provide evidence of your costs, such as: a letter from your registered childcare provider, a bank statement proving you've paid your provider, or a cash payment receipt.
While you can make a claim up to three months unless you meet the criteria below,you will only get the money after the childcare has been provided, so even if you pay in one upfront sum, you may get the money paid back to you in smaller instalments over a few assessment periods.
Some claimants can now claim costs upfront
A new feature of Universal Credit is that if you move into work or "significantly increase" your hours, you can be paid a month of childcare costs upfront. The Department for Work and Pensions told us there is no minimum number of hours, but that work coaches may expect at least a few more hours of work every week.
For those entering work: Once you know your start date, you then need to find childcare, get the approximate monthly cost, then submit this via your journal. You will then get the 85% of the first month credited to your account upfront.
For those increasing their hours: Once you know what your next childcare bill will look like, you need to speak to your work coach (via your journal or in person), to start the process.
You can use Childcare Vouchers and Universal Credit together but you CAN'T get Universal Credit at the same time as claiming under the Tax-Free Childcare scheme.
If you're in work, Universal Credit can help by paying back up to 85% of your childcare costs. You can make a claim through your Universal Credit account, but be aware you need to provide receipts and will only be reimbursed after your childcare has taken place.
You can use Universal Credit with Childcare Vouchers, but as you'll only be able to claim on the costs not covered by the vouchers, you may be better off not using the vouchers at all, as Universal Credit will likely contribute more to your costs.
For example, if you've monthly childcare costs of £1,000 and you pay £500 with vouchers, you can only claim back up to 85% of the remaining £500 through Universal Credit: £425.
In contrast, if your childcare cost £1,000 and you only used Universal Credit to pay for it, you could claim back up to £850, so twice as much.
If you were claiming Childcare Vouchers before they were stopped, you can continue to claim them even if you're claiming Universal Credit.
Tax-Free Childcare is a government-backed scheme, launched in 2017. You can switch between Tax-Free Childcare and Universal Credit if one is better for your circumstances.
The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group offers more guidance on how this could work for you.
If you have limited capability for work and work-related activity:
• £390.06 a month
If you have limited capability for work and you started your health-related Universal Credit claim before 3 April 2017:
• £185.86 a month
Did you know? If you have paid enough national insurance contributions, you may also be able to claim new-style employment and support allowance of up to about £84.80 a week. Head to our Benefits Calculator to see how much you could get.
The carer's element is:
• £185.86 a month
Important: If you and someone else in your household care for the same person, you can't both get the carer's element. You'll have to decide which of you will claim it. If you're getting the separate carer's allowance benefit you can continue to get that too, if you continue to be eligible.
When you apply for Universal Credit, you must fill in whether you've a disability, illness or health condition which means you can't work. This includes physical and mental health issues. If you say yes, you will most likely need to attend a 'work capability assessment' (WCA).
Usually, this will happen around the 29th day of your claim, but there are certain instances where you may be referred to one on the first day – for example, if you're terminally ill or you're not legally allowed to work.
At the WCA, you'll be asked questions about your condition and how it affects your daily life, and how it might vary over time.
Once you've had your assessment, a report will be sent to the Department for Work and Pensions and used by a case worker (along with other evidence you've provided) to make a decision on whether you're:
- Fit to work
- Have limited capacity for work
- Have limited capacity for work and work-related activity
If you're deemed fit enough, you'll need to look for work that's suitable for your condition, and be prepared to work to keep getting Universal Credit.
If you've limited capacity for work, you won't have to look for it straightaway, but you'll need to prepare for working in future, for example by writing a CV. If this is you, you could get an extra £146.31, in some circumstances.
If you're considered to have limited capacity for work and work-related activity, you'll not be expected to look for or prepare for work. If this is you, you could get an extra £390.06 a month.
- Income from work: Currently, for every £1 you earn (after tax and pension contributions), your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by 55p.
If you have children or have a disability, you can earn up to a particular amount before your payment starts to be reduced. This is called a 'work allowance'. It's currently £379 a month if you get help from Universal Credit towards paying your housing costs, or £631 a month if you don't.
- Income from benefits (or a private pension): For every £1 of income you receive from some other benefits (or private pension), your Universal Credit payment will reduce by £1. Some benefits aren't taken into account when your income is worked out, including Child Benefit, disability living allowance, personal independence payment and war pensions. Read the full list of benefits that can reduce your payment.
- Savings: You'll get less Universal Credit if your household has more than £6,000 in savings. If you've savings of £16,000 or more, you won't be eligible for Universal Credit. See a full breakdown of how this works in practice.
Universal Credit payments can also be reduced if you haven't done something you've agreed to do as part of your 'claimant commitment' (the document you'll write with your Jobcentre coach setting out your responsibilities while claiming Universal Credit).
You can be sanctioned if you, for example:
• Miss an interview
• Reject a job offer
• Don't spend enough time each week searching for a job
If you are single and over 25, sanctions can reduce your Universal Credit payment by £12 a day, for as long as your sanction lasts. If you're under 25, sanctions are £9.50 a day.
If you claim Universal Credit as a couple, and just one of you doesn't do something set out in your claimant commitment, your joint payment can be reduced. If you're in a couple and one or both of you are over 25, the sanction is £8.60 a day if only one of you has been sanctioned. If you're both under 25, the sanction for one person not sticking to their claimant commitment is £6.80 a day.
Not sure what you could get? Use our 10-minute Benefits Calculator as a ready reckoner
Our 10-minute Benefits Calculator will give you a good idea of what you're entitled to depending on your circumstances.
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