How much Universal Credit will I get? - Which? (2023)

How much Universal Credit will I get?

Your Universal Credit payments will depend on your circumstances, including how much you earn, whether you have children and how many, and whether you're unable to work.

Everyone who is eligible for Universal Credit will receive a basic allowance, but this varies depending on how old you are and whether you're claiming as a single person or as part of a couple.

You may also be entitled to additional amounts - known as elements - depending on your circumstances.

This maximum amount may be reduced if you earn more than a certain amount or have significant savings. We explain how this works in our section on your income and Universal Credit.

You can find out more about what Universal Credit is and who is eligible in our guide: what is Universal Credit?

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Universal Credit standard allowance

The standard allowance you may be entitled to is set out below.

Your circumstancesUniversal Credit monthly standard allowance 2023-24
Single, aged under 25£292.11
Single, aged 25 and over£368.74
In a couple, both aged under 25£458.51
In a couple, one or both aged 25 and over£578.82

Universal Credit additional elements

As well as the standard allowance, you may be eligible to claim additional elements if they apply to you - we explain these in the table below.

Universal Credit additional elementsExtra monthly amount
Child element - if you have one child (if born before 6 April 2017)£315
Child element - second child/also first child if born on or after 6 April 2017£269.58
Disabled child element£146.31
Severely disabled child element£456.89
Childcare elementUp to 85% of costs - max £646.35 for one child; £1,108.04 for two or more children. Set to increase to max £951 for one child; £1,630 for two or more children from summer 2023
Limited capability for work and work-related activity element£390.06
Limited capability for work and started health-related Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance claim before 3 April 2017£146.31

Universal Credit child element

If you're responsible for children, you'll generally only receive extra amounts to cover two children, unless the following exceptions apply:

  • you were already claiming for more than two children before 6 April 2017
  • you're renewing a claim that stopped within the last six months for more than two children
  • you have more than two children due to multiple births (i.e. if you have twins, triplets, etc)
  • you have children who are adopted
  • the children are living with you as part of a formal or informal caring arrangement
  • any children were conceived as a result of non-consensual sex (including rape).

If your child or children are disabled, you'll receive extra amounts regardless of how many children you have.

If you care for a severely disabled child, you may be able to claim the disabled child element, plus the element for being a carer - as long as you provide at least 35 hours of care a week.

Childcare element

In the Spring Budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced an increase to the childcare element of Universal Credit, which is set to go up to £951 for one child, and £1,630 for two children from summer 2023.

Money for childcare will also be paid upfront - rather than parents having to pay costs first and retrospectively apply for money to cover their costs.

It's not clear exactly when these changes will be brought into force, but we'll update these details as we find out more.

  • Find out more:free childcare expanded and Universal Credit childcare cap boosted in Spring Budget

Limited capability for work element

When you apply for Universal Credit, you'll be asked whether you have any health conditions or disabilities that could affect your ability to work.

If you do, you'll be asked to have a Work Capability Assessment, which will either be over the phone or via a video call.

You'll then be placed into one of three groups:

  • fit for work - you are judged to be capable of working.
  • limited capability for work - you can't work now, but you could work in future and are able to prepare by doing things such as writing a CV.
  • limited capability for work and work-related activity - you can't work and it's not expected that you'd be able to prepare to work in the future.

If it's decided you're fit for work, you'll have to agree to look for work suitable for your health condition in order to claim Universal Credit.

Housing element for homeowners

You may be able to claim extra money to pay for the home you own - including shared ownership properties.

To be eligible, you must have been on benefits without any breaks for at least 39 weeks, and not receive any earnings from your job, statutory sick pay, or any statutory maternity, paternity or shared parental leave pay, or statutory adoption pay.

The money can help with the cost of buying the property, as well as repairs and maintenance.

If you're a leaseholder, the money can help to pay for service charges.

For help with mortgage interest, you'll only be able to take out a Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loan, which has an upper limit of £200,000 and is paid directly to your lender.

Housing element for tenants

If you receive Universal Credit, you might be able to get help with paying your housing costs.

You can get payments if you rent from a private landlord, housing association or local authority, and the money can be used to pay rent and service charges.

What you can get depends on how old you are, who else you live with, and whether you receive any other kinds of benefits or payments - see the government's full guide for more details.

If you're in sheltered, supported or temporary housing

You can apply for Universal Credit if you live in supported or sheltered housing, as long as you're not receiving 'care, support or supervision' through your housing.

If you're living in temporary accommodation, or a women's refuge for survivors of domestic abuse, you can apply for housing benefit, rather than Universal Credit.

Does your income reduce your Universal Credit payment?

If you're in work, your earnings will affect how much Universal Credit you receive. For every £1 you earn, you'll lose 55p of your Universal Credit award - unless you qualify for work allowance.

As your earnings increase, you may eventually receive no Universal Credit and your payments may stop. You'll be told before this happens.

If your salary is later reduced and you want to start claiming Universal Credit again, you'll have to make a new claim.

The graph below shows how the amount of Universal Credit you receive can be reduced in 2023-24. It assumes a single adult over the age of 25 receives the standard allowance and no work allowance.

Work allowance

If you qualify for 'work allowance', you can earn a set amount before your Universal Credit payments are reduced. To be eligible, you (and/or your partner) must be responsible for at least one child, or have an illness or disability that means you're unable to work.

If you qualify for work allowance and receive the housing element of Universal Credit, you'll be able to earn up to the 'lower work allowance' in the table below. If you don't receive the housing element, you'll benefit from the 'higher work allowance'.

For every pound you earn over the work allowance, your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by 55p. So, for example, if you earn £600 a month and are eligible for the higher work allowance, you'd exceed it by £27, meaning your payment would be reduced by £14.85 (27 x 0.55).

Your circumstancesHigher work allowanceLower work allowance
Single - responsible for one or more children£631 per month£379 per month
Single - limited capability for work£631 per month£379 per month
Couple - responsible for one or more children£631 per month£379 per month
Couple - limited capability for work£631 per month£379 per month

Universal Credit and self-employed earnings

If you're self-employed, your income will reduce at the same rate as if you're employed. But there's also what's known as a 'minimum income floor'. This is the amount the government assumes all self-employed people earn.

The minimum income floor equates to what someone would earn if they worked for 35 hours a week at the National Minimum Wage for their age group. So, for someone over the age of 23, this would be £1,459 a month, or £10.42 an hour.

If you earn less, your payments will still be calculated as if you did earn the minimum income floor. If you earn more, then your payments will be calculated using your actual earnings.

The minimum income floor won't apply to you for the first 12 months of you being self-employed. This is called the 'start-up period' and is supposed to help you grow your business.

The minimum income floor wasn't applied between 30 March 2020 to 31 July 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic; the DWP will contact you if it will be used to work out your payments in future.

  • Find out more:income tax for the self-employed

How savings reduce your payments

The amount you have in a savings account or Isa could also affect how much Universal Credit you receive.

If you have less than £6,000, this won't have any effect on your payments.

If your savings are between £6,000 and £16,000, it will be treated as if you're receiving an income from this money when calculating your Universal Credit.

This income will be £4.35 for each £250, or part of £250 you hold - regardless of whether you receive any income from your savings or not.

What's more, if you're part of a couple but have to make a Universal Credit claim as a single person, your partner's savings will still be taken into account.

Other benefits and Universal Credit

Unearned income is the money you receive from other benefits and allowances.

This is taken into account when calculating how much Universal Credit payments you receive. For every £1 of income you receive from other benefits, your maximum Universal Credit payment will be reduced by £1.

Income from the following benefits will reduce your Universal Credit payments:

  • contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • contributory Employment and Support Allowance
  • Carer's Allowance
  • widowed mother's allowance
  • widowed parent's allowance
  • widow's pension
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Benefit - excluding exceptionally severe disablement where constant attendance is needed.

Find out more:what is Universal Credit? - our guide explains how the application process works and whether you might be eligible to claim.

How to calculate your Universal Credit payment

Calculating your payments is a complicated process, but you can get a rough estimate using these steps:

Step 1. Add up everything you might qualify for, including the standard allowance and any additional elements. This will give you your maximum credit entitlement.

Step 2. Make reductions for your income from any jobs, rent or other earnings. If you have more than £6,000 in savings, you'll also have to make reductions for those, and further reductions for other benefits or pensions you receive.

Step 3. The amount you receive could also be affected by any sanctions ordered against you if you break the terms of your Universal Credit claimant agreement. Your responsibilities will be outlined when you first apply - the government's guide outlines how a claimant agreement works.

Step 4.You may hit the benefits cap, which is the maximum amount of benefits a household can receive in one year. Throughout most of England, the benefits cap is £20,000 for couples and families, and £13,400 for single people without children. In London, it's £23,000 for couples and families or £15,410 for single people without children.

Even if you follow these steps, it's very difficult to arrive at an accurate result, so you may need to wait until the DWP confirms how much you're entitled to.

  • Find out more: whether you are making a new claim or moving over from existing benefits, the Money Helper Money Manager for Universal Credit claimants tool can offer personalised advice on budgeting for a single payment, the best ways to pay your rent and where to get help if you're struggling.
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