What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs.

Universal Credit is one benefit that replaces the following benefits:

  • income support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • housing benefit
  • child tax credits.

If you get any of these benefits you don't need to do anything unless you need to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about a change in your circumstances, or if the DWP contact you about moving to Universal Credit.

Who can get Universal Credit?

You may be able to get Universal Credit if:

  • you are on a low income or not working
  • you are aged 18 or over
  • you are under State Pension age (or your partner is)
  • you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
  • you live in the United Kingdom.

How much Universal Credit you can get

How much Universal Credits you can get depends on how much money you earn. 

Universal Credit payments are made up of a standard allowance and any extra amounts that apply to you. For example if you:

  • have children
  • have a disability or health condition which stops you from working
  • need help paying your rent.

Use this benefits calculator to see how much you could get.

Standard allowance

You can get:

  • £342.72 if you are single and under the age of 25
  • £409.89 if you are single and aged 25 or over
  • £488.59 (for you both) if you are in a couple and you are both under the age of 25
  • £594.04 (for you both) if you are in a couple and either of you are aged 25 or over.

Extra amounts

Some people may get more money as well as the standard allowance. We have explained when this might happen, and how much extra money you may receive below.

If you have a disability or health condition

If you have limited capability for work and work-related activity you could get an extra £341.92 per month.

If you have limited capability for work and you started your health-related Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claim before 3 April 2017 you could get an extra £128.25 per month.

If you care for a person with a disability

If you care for at least 35 hours a week for a person with a disability who receives a disability-related benefit you could get an extra £162.92 per month.

If you have children

If you have 1 or 2 children, you’ll get an extra amount for each child.

For your first child you could get an extra £281.25 per month if they were born before 6 April 2017, or £235.83 if they were born on or after 6 April 2017.

For your second child and any other eligible children you could get an extra £235.83 per child per month.

If you have a child with a disability you could get an extra £128.25 or £400.29 per month.

If you need help with childcare costs you could get Universal Credit for up to 85% of your costs per month (up to £646.35 for one child and £1,108.04 for 2 or more children).

How to apply for Universal Credit

You can apply for Universal Credit on the GOV.uk website.

You have to apply as a couple if you and your partner live together.

To apply, you will need:

  • your bank, building society or credit union account details (call the Universal Credit helpline if you do not have one)
  • an email address
  • information about your housing, e.g. how much rent you pay
  • details of your income, e.g. payslips
  • details of savings and any investments, like shares or a property that you rent out
  • details of how much you pay for childcare if you’re applying for help with childcare costs
  • something to confirm your identity, e.g. driving licence, passport, debit or credit card.

Challenging a decision about Universal Credit

You can challenge a decision about your claim. This is called asking for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’.

You must do this within a month of receiving the letter that told you that you had been turned down. If they do not change their decision, then you can appeal.

A tribunal will decide whether to change the decision. More information is available from the government's website, GOV.uk.

Try to get an adviser to help you with your appeal. You can find advisers in your local area.

 You can also contact the Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 or helpline@mencap.org.uk for more information.

Useful resources

We've created some useful factsheets and precedent letters (which are designed to address complex legal situations) to help you know your rights and when to get advice about a problem.

You can access these on our Information and advice resources page.

If you need advice on completing a letter, please contact the Learning Disability Helpline.

How to get the support you need

Contact the Learning Disability Helpline, our advice and support line, for guidance and information about what support we can offer you.

Or why not take a look at our online community? This is a place for parents and family carers of people with a learning disability to share experiences, advice and support.

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