How much can you get?
UNIVERSAL Credit is a single monthly payment that combines six benefits into one.
Low-income or unemployed Brits can apply for the payment, which is calculated based on your personal circumstances.
The government says it should also help people get back to work, but the longer you work, the more your benefits will be affected.
This is because Universal Credit is tiered, meaning that for every pound you earn above a certain allowance, 55 pence is deducted from your payments.
The rate was cut by 63p in the October 2021 Autumn Budget and was a victory for the Sun’s campaign to make Universal Credit work.
Universal credit calculators
TRYING to figure out how much Universal Credit you can get can be overwhelming.
There are so many different things that can affect your application that it makes the whole process even more complicated.
There are a number of free calculators you can use to help you get an estimate, such as Gov.uk, Citizen’s Advice, MoneySavingExpert, StepChange and Turn2Us.
You will need:
- Details of all your income, such as existing benefits, tax credits, earnings from work and your pensions,
- Details of your partner’s income if you are married, in a PACS or living as a couple. You will be assessed as a couple’
- Information on your possible savings,
- How much you pay in housing tax per year and if you benefit from discounts, reductions or exemptions,
- Details of your rent or mortgage payments,
- Employment and income information of anyone else living with you, such as adult children,
- Details of your childcare allowance if you receive it.
You need to make sure the information is as accurate as possible in order to get the best estimate.
How much Universal Credit can I get?
The amount of Universal Credit you are entitled to depends on your personal circumstances, such as the number of children you have, the amount of your income and the number of people you live with.
But it is also affected by the benefit ceiling, which limits the amount of social assistance you can get.
The cap for benefits outside Greater London is:
- £384.62 per week (£20,000 per year) if you are a couple or a single parent and your children live with you
- £257.69 per week (£13,400 per year) if you are a single adult
The benefit cap in Greater London is:
- £442.31 per week (£23,000 per year) if you are a couple or a single parent and your children live with you
- £296.35 per week (£15,410 per year) if you are a single adult
Universal Credit applicants saw their payments increased by £1,040 (£20 per week) during the pandemic, but this support ended in October 2020.
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How is my Universal Credit calculated?
The Department for Work and Pensions first determines the amount your household is entitled to, but this may then be affected by deductions or penalties.
Your partner’s situation will be taken into account if you live together, even if you are not married.
Anyone accepted on Universal Credit will be entitled to a standard allowance – the amount you get depends on whether you are single or not.
- Single and under 25: £257.33 per month
- Single and aged 25 or over: £324.84 per month
- Joint applicants under 25: £403.93 per month
- Joint applicants one of whom is aged 25 or over: £509.91 per month
Once the DWP has calculated your household allowance, it will consider any requests for additional items, such as money for children, housing or disabilities.
Here are all the items you may be entitled to:
If your child is under 16, you may be entitled to:
- £282.50 per month for the first or only child born before April 6, 2017
- £237.08 per month per child in all other circumstances
You can only claim this item for a maximum of two children, unless you have twins or are adopted.
If your child has a disability, you may also be entitled to:
- £128.89 per month per child receiving DLA or PIP
- £402.41 per month per child if eligible for the higher rate of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) care component, enhanced rate of PIP for Daily Living or if they are is recorded as blind.
Custody costs element
Working parents can claim up to 85% of childcare costs, up to a maximum of £646.35 per month for one child, or £1,108.04 per month for two or more children.
Unfortunately, parents have to bear the initial costs of sending their child to a crèche or to a childminder.
This is preventing thousands of parents from returning to work, which is why we are calling on the government to change this.
Accommodation cost element
Universal Credit can help you pay your rent, or part of it, as well as certain rental charges.
The amount you receive varies depending on whether you are a private or social tenant.
The amount is based on the local housing benefit where you live, which determines rental prices in the area for the number of bedrooms you need.
For example, a single person without children will be able to claim the average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in the area.
Social housing tenants
Your benefit is calculated based on your eligible rent, which takes into account the number of bedrooms you actually need.
You are entitled to one room for each adult couple, each person over the age of 16, two children of the same sex under the age of 16, two children under the age of 10 regardless of gender, any other child, a carer of night who does not live with you full time.
If you have more rooms than you need, your eligible rent is reduced by 14% for one spare room or 15% for two or more spare rooms.
If your household has no other income or savings, you will receive the full amount to which you are entitled.
Those caring for a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours a week will receive £163.73 a month.
If you apply jointly, you can both receive the caregiver element, but not if you are caring for the same person.
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Can I work with Universal Credit?
The government says the flagship welfare system was designed to help people get back to work.
Therefore, you can work as many hours as you want while claiming benefits, but this may reduce the amount you receive.
This is because your salary will be subject to the declining rate: for every pound you earn, your Universal Credit payment will decrease by 55 pence.
If you have a job and a child dependent on you or if you cannot work as much because of illness, you may be entitled to work allowance.
This is the amount you can earn each month before the discount rate takes effect.
If you get support for your housing costs, this will be set at £335, or £557 if you don’t.
If you do not receive work allowance, your entire salary is subject to the decreasing rate.
What to do if you’re having trouble claiming Universal Credit
If you’re having trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don’t cover the costs, here are your options:
Ask for an advancee – Applicants can get money within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it’s a loan, which means repayments will automatically be deducted from your future Universal Credit payment.
Alternative payment methods– If you are behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will ensure that your payment is sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split payments if you’re in a relationship.
Budget advance – You may be able to get government help to cover emergency household costs up to £348 if you are single, £464 if you are in a relationship or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your stove breaking down or to get help finding a job. You will need to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You will still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming Universal Credit.
Reduce your council tax – You may be able to get a reduction on your council tax or qualify for discretionary housing payments if your payments are not enough to cover your rent.
Food banks – If you are really struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local food bank who will provide help for free. You can find the nearest on the Trussel Trust website.
What else can reduce my payments?
Any other income you have that is not related to work or benefits, such as a pension, will see £1 deducted from your Universal Credit payment for every £1 of income.
If you have savings when you apply for Universal Credit, they may also lower your payments.
You may also receive less than you are entitled to because your payment is subject to holds.
This may be because you have to repay a budget advance or loan or you have already received excess tax credits.
You may also see money come off your payment because you’ve fallen behind on your rent, council tax, or energy bills.
These deductions are payments that go directly to your landlord or housing association, council or energy supplier to help pay off your debt.
Making Universal Credit Work
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