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How much is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is usually paid to you as a single monthly payment, but it’s made up of several different elements. Before you make a claim, it’s hard to give an accurate figure for how much Universal Credit you’ll get. It’s important to know the different allowances and elements you might be entitled to, how much you can get for each one, and how payments can be affected by other income and savings or income from working.

Universal Credit Standard Allowance

If you’re claiming Universal Credit, you’ll get one standard allowance for your household. The amount you will get in 2021-22 is:

  • £257.33 a month for single claimants under 25
  • £324.84 a month for single claimants aged 25 or over
  • £403.93 a month for joint claimants both under 25
  • £509.91 a month for joint claimants with either aged 25 or over.

These figures do not include any increase to the standard allowance because of coronavirus, which is currently £20 a week. This increase will end on 30 September 2021.

Want an estimate of how much Universal Credit you’ll get? Try using the calculator on the Policy in Practice website

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Additional elements

On top of the standard allowance, you might get additional allowances. These include:

  • child element
  • childcare costs element
  • limited capability for work-related activity element (LCWRA)
  • limited capability for work and work element (not available for most new claimants after 3 April 2017)
  • carer element
  • housing costs element.
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Child element

Are you looking after a child under the age of 16, or a qualifying young person under the age of 20? Then you qualify for the child element.

Find out more about the criteria for a qualifying young person on the Turn2us website

In 2021-22, the child element entitles you to:

  • £282.50 a month for first or only child born before 6 April 2017
  • £237.08 a month per child in all other circumstances.

You can only claim the child element for a maximum of two children. This is unless an exemption applies, such as a multiple birth, or you’ve adopted.

If your child has a long-term health condition or is disabled, you might be entitled to one of the following disabled child elements:

  • £128.89 a month per child or qualifying young person currently getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or PIP (Personal Independence Payment).
  • £402.41 a month per child or qualifying young person if they get the highest rate of the DLA care component, enhanced rate of PIP for daily living, or are registered blind.
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Childcare costs element

If you’re working, you can get up to 85% of your childcare costs paid for. In 2021-22, this is up to a maximum of £646.35 a month for one child, or £1108.04 a month for two or more children.

Both of you must be working if you’re claiming as a couple. This is unless the non-working partner:

  • has limited capability for work or limited capability for work and work-related activity (LCWRA)
  • is a carer for someone with a severe disability
  • is temporarily absent – for example, in prison, hospital or residential care.

If either you or your partner is furloughed because of coronavirus and not going into work, you won’t be able to claim the childcare costs element. This is because the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) expects you to provide the childcare.

If you’re entitled to Universal Credit, you can’t also get tax-free childcare payments.

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You’ll get £343.63 a month (2021-22) if you satisfy the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and have a limited capability for work and work-related activity (LCWRA).

If you’re making a joint claim, only one of you needs to have LCWRA to get this element.

You won’t get this if you earn more than the equivalent of 16 hours a week at the National Minimum Wage. This is unless you’re also getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Limited capability for work element

In most cases, the limited capability for work element isn’t available if you’re claiming Universal Credit after 3 April 2017.

You’ll get £128.29 a month (2021-22) if you have the limited capability for work element following the Work Capability Assessment.

Carer element

If you’re caring for a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours a week, you’ll get £163.73 a month (2021-22).

If you’re making a joint claim, you can both get the carers element. But you can’t be caring for the same person.

You don’t qualify for the carer element if you have any earnings from your caring responsibilities.

If you’re claiming as a single person, you’ll only get one carer element. This is even if you care for more than one disabled person.

If more than one person is caring for the same person, you’ll need to decide who will get the carer element.

Housing costs element

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Private tenants

The housing costs element for private tenants is based on the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for where you live.

LHA is calculated on a formula for rental prices in your area, for the number of rooms you need.

For example, a single claimant with no children will have their LHA based on the average cost of renting a one bedroom flat in that area. If you're under 35 with no children, your LHA will usually be based on renting a room in a shared flat or house.

This means your housing costs element might not cover all your rent.

Social housing tenants

If you’re a social housing tenant, the housing costs element is based on your eligible rent.

The eligible rent takes into consideration the number of bedrooms you need. You’re allowed one bedroom for:

  • each adult couple
  • each person over 16
  • two children of the same sex under 16
  • two children under 10, regardless of gender
  • any other child
  • an overnight carer who doesn’t normally live with you.

If you have more bedrooms than you need, your eligible rent will be reduced by:

  • 14% for one spare bedroom
  • 25% for two or more spare bedrooms.

You won’t be affected by this reduction if you’re:

  • foster carers
  • parents of someone in the armed forces, or a full-time student
  • parents of a severely disabled child.

How much Universal Credit will I get if I’m working?

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You might qualify for a work allowance if:

  • you’re in paid work and responsible for a dependent child
  • can’t work as much because of illness or disability.

Monthly work allowances (2021-22) are set at:

  • £293 if your Universal Credit includes housing support
  • £515 if you don’t get housing support.

Your Universal Credit payment will go down by 63p for every £1 you earn above your work allowance.

If you don’t get a work allowance, your Universal Credit payment will go down by 63p for every £1 on all your earnings.

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Non-work income and Universal Credit

Non-work income is any money you have coming in that isn’t from work or benefits – for example, a pension.

For every £1 you have coming in from non-work income, your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by £1.

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Savings and Universal Credit

Do you or your partner have savings of over £6,000 (£10,000 if you’re over State Pension age)? Then your Universal Credit payment will start to be reduced.

If you or your partner have over £16,000 in savings, you won’t be entitled to any Universal Credit.

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Other benefits and Universal Credit

There are a range of other benefits you can claim at the same time as Universal Credit. These include new style Jobseeker’s Allowance, New Style Employment and Support Allowance, Carers Allowance and Maternity Allowance.

For every £1 you have coming in from these and some other benefits, your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by £1.

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If you take out a Universal Credit Advance payment

When you first claim for Universal Credit, you can ask for up to a full month’s payment as an advance. This will have to be repaid over the next 12 months.

These repayments will be deducted from your Universal Credit payments.

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Universal Credit and the benefit cap

Universal Credit is affected by the benefit cap. This limits the maximum you can get in benefits to (2021-22):

  • £1,916.67 a month for couples and lone parents if you live in London
  • £1,666.67 a month for couples and lone parents outside London
  • £1,284.17 a month for single person with no children in London
  • £1,116.67 a month for a single person with no children outside London.

Some people won’t have the benefit cap applied. For example, if you’re working or have a disability.

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How do sanctions affect Universal Credit?

If you fail to meet the responsibilities in your claimant commitment, you’ll be sanctioned. This means you’ll have your Universal Credit payment cut.

How much this reduces your payment by and for how long depends on what the sanction is for and if you’ve been sanctioned before.

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Universal Credit calculator

It’s difficult for us to give you an exact figure of how much Universal Credit you’ll get before you apply as the amount depends on your family life and other things, such as whether you're working.

Here are some calculators that can help you get a better idea:

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impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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