Working out your maximum Universal Credit

This is step 1 of a manual calculation. Every UC calculation and statement starts off with maximum amount of UC and then deductions are applied to this.

 

To get started you need to work out your standard allowance. 

Standard Allowance

Your standard allowance will depend on whether you are single or claiming as a couple and your age. 

*these amounts include an increase during the Covid-19 pandemic and are set to decrease in September 2021.

 

Once you have calculated your standard allowance, write this down and move on to check whether any additional elements apply to your household.

Additional elements include:​

 

Child element

(If you don't have any children or qualifying young people, jump to the next section)

Your Universal Credit will contain the child element if you are responsible for a child or qualifying young person that normally lives with you. 

The amount you'll receive depends on when your child was born and whether they are your eldest. You'll also only receive the child element for two children unless they were born before 6th April 2017 or an exception applies.

 

 

NOTE: Due to the two child cap, you will not receive a child element for a third or subsequent child born on or after 6th April 2017 unless an exception applies. You can read more about the child element, exceptions and the two child cap here

 

Once you have calculated your child element, write this down and move on to check whether any additional elements apply to your household.

 

Disabled child addition

(If your child doesn't receive DLA or PIP and isn't registered blind jump to the next section)

If you have a disabled child or qualifying young person that is in receipt of DLA , PIP or registered blind, you will receive a disabled child addition as part of your Universal Credit award.

NOTE: You can still receive the disabled child addition for a child even if you cannot get the child element for them due to the two child cap.

 

 

Once you have calculated your disabled child element, write this down and move on to check whether any additional elements apply to your household.

Childcare costs 

(If you don't pay for childcare jump to the next section)

If you pay for registered childcare when you go to work, you can receive a childcare costs element. While there is no minimum requirement of hours you must work, you must be in paid employment and Universal Credit will look at whether your childcare costs are reasonable.

 

If you are part of a couple, then both of you must be in paid employment unless the non-working partner:

  • Has limited capability for work or limited capability for work-related activity, or

  • Has regular and substantial caring responsibilities for a severely disabled person and receives the carer element of Universal Credit, or

  • Is temporarily absent from your household (for example, they are in residential care, hospital or in prison).

The childcare element you receive is based on what you pay but does have limits:

 

You can read more about how to calculate your childcare element and eligibility here

Once you have calculated your disabled child element, write this down and move on to check whether any additional elements apply to your household.

 

Carers element

(If neither you or your partner care for a disabled person jump to the next section)

You can add carer element if either you (or your partner) care for a someone at least 35 hours a week who is in receipt of the relevant benefits.

The person being cared for must be in receipt of: 

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA) - middle or high rate care,

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP) - either rate of daily living component,

  • Attendance Allowance,

  • Constant Attendance Allowance - at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, or basic (full day) rate with War Disablement Pension or

  • Armed Forces Independence Payment.

NOTES:

  • You do not have to claim Carer's Allowance to get this element. 

  • Only one person can be paid as a carer for each disabled person.

  • Unlike Carer's Allowance, there is no earnings limit for claiming the carer element of UC. However, as a means tested benefit, your earnings and other income will affect your whole Universal Credit award and no element is protected from deductions.  

  • If you are on a joint claim, you can both receive the carers element (if you both qualify for it), but you cannot be caring for the same disabled person.

  • An individual cannot receive both the carer element and LCWRA. 

  • Claiming the carer element of Universal Credit may impact the benefits of the person you care for, for example if they claim Severe Disability Premium. If you are considering claiming the carer element for caring for someone who claims benefits, you should seek advice. You can ask in our community space.

Once you have calculated your carer's element, write this down and move on to check whether any additional elements apply to your household.

Housing

(If you don't pay rent jump to the next section)

Universal Credit includes an element for housing if you live in a property you have a legal responsibility to pay rent in. This applies even if you have never been entitled to housing benefit.

NOTES: 

  • If you are staying in temporary/supported housing, you may need to claim housing benefit instead for help with housing costs as Universal Credit cannot cover these types of housing. You can read more about 'exempt' accommodation here.

  • If you pay rent to close family , who also live in the property, UC cannot help with housing costs.

  • If you are on a joint claim, only you or your partner need to be named on the tenancy agreement.

When establishing how much help you are entitled to with your housing costs you need to work out the number of bedrooms your household requires. You would be entitled to one bedroom for:

  • you (and your partner if you have one)

  • any child 16 or over (qualifying young person) still on your claim

  • any non-dependent who is not a child

  • 2 children of either sex, who are under 10

  • 2 children of the same sex, under 16

  • any other child

You may be entitled to an additional bedroom for an overnight carer, disabled child unable to share or if you or your partner is disabled and unable to share with partner.

You may also be entitled to an additional bedroom as a foster carer.

Private rented housing follows different rules to social housing rules. You can jump to social housing section by clicking here.

Private rented housing
The amount of housing element you are entitled to is based on your Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate or your actual rent – whichever is lower. There may be a deduction for any other adults who live as part as your household (non-dependents).

NOTE: If you are a joint tenant with someone who is not your partner (eg. a sister), it will be assumed that you are responsible for an equal share. If this is not the case, you can ask for any information and evidence to be looked at by a UC Decision Maker

Your Local Housing Allowance is based on the number of bedrooms for your circumstances, not the number of bedrooms that you have.

Your LHA amount will depend on:​

  • Where you live

  • How many bedrooms you are entitled to

NOTE: 

  • Your housing element is based on the number of bedrooms you are entitled to, not how many bedrooms are in your home. The number of bedrooms in your home is not relevant.

  • You can usually only get shared accommodation rate if you are single and under 35 but there are exceptions.

You can check your LHA rate here:

 
 

Once you have your LHA rate for your circumstances, you can work out what your housing element will be:

*there may be a non-dependent deduction of £75.53 for any other adult who lives in your house, unless an exemption applies. 

A non-dependent is someone who resides with you that is not a dependent child or a partner and is not liable for paying the rent. 

It is not someone who you collect rent from as a sub-tenant. 

It is not a landlord or joint tenant.

It is normally a grown up son or daughter or elderly relative.​

There will be no deduction if the non-dependent is:

  • under 21

  • receiving Pension Credit

  • receiving the care component of Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate

  • receiving the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment

  • receiving Attendance Allowance 

  • receiving Carer's Allowance

  • the primary carer for a child aged 4 or under

Or if you (or your partner) is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (middle/high rate care), Personal Independence Payment (daily living) or Attendance Allowance.​

You can read more about private rent on UC here

Once you have calculated your housing element, write this down and move on to check whether any additional elements apply to your household.

(jump to the next section)

Social housing

In social housing, your housing  element will be based on your eligible rent. 

To calculate your housing element, you need to work out rent as an average monthly amount – this is not 4 weekly. UC will take into consideration any rent-free weeks.

 

If you are charged rent weekly – Multiply your weekly rent by the number of weeks you pay rent per year and then divide by 12.  For example, if you have to pay £100 per week and have 2 rent free weeks, you would do 100 x 50 and then divide by 12.

Example:

 

IMPORTANT: Your housing element takes account of average monthly rent with a deduction for any non-dependents or bedroom tax.

A non-dependent is someone who resides with you that is not a dependent child or a partner and is not liable for paying the rent. 

It is not someone who you collect rent from as a sub-tenant. 

It is not a landlord or joint tenant.

It is normally a grown up son or daughter or elderly relative.​

There will be no deduction if the non-dependent is:

  • under 21

  • receiving Pension Credit

  • receiving the care component of Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate

  • receiving the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment

  • receiving Attendance Allowance 

  • receiving Carer's Allowance

  • the primary carer for a child aged 4 or under

Or if you (or your partner) is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (middle/high rate care), Personal Independence Payment (daily living) or Attendance Allowance.​

Your housing element may be reduced by bedroom tax which makes a deduction if you are classed as having spare rooms. 14% deduction for one spare bedroom, 25% deduction for two or more spare bedrooms.

Note: To apply 14% bedroom tax multiply the total by 0.86.  To apply 25% bedroom tax multiply the total by 0.75.

You can read more about social housing on UC here

Once you have calculated your housing element, write this down and move on to check whether any additional elements apply to your household.

 

Limited capability for work (LCW) and Limited capability for work and work related activity (LCWRA)

(If neither you or your partner have a disability or health condition impacting your ability to work then jump to the next section)

This element can may be included for you if you have a health condition or disability that affects your capability to work. There are various ways that this can be included.

ESA claimants

If you were entitled to Employment and Support Allowance at the time of claiming UC and have a determined award of work capability, the decision will follow you onto UC. This is called ESA to UC transition and should be applied automatically and the be applied to your claim without the need to submit fit notes from your GP.

Terminally ill

LCWRA will be added from day 1 of your claim if you have been issued with a DS1500. This form is issued by a GP or specialist when you are considered terminally ill  and your death could be ‘reasonably expected’ within the next six months.

Pension age with disability benefit

If you or your partner, claims UC and is of pension age and has a disability, you may be eligible for LCW or LCWRA.

Work capability element will not be included for someone who is of pension age with disability benefit until a three month waiting period has been served. This means that any relevant amount will only be included from fourth payment unless they are in receipt of ESA with a determined award at the time of claiming UC or are terminally ill.

If you are not an ESA claimant , terminally ill or pension age with disability

LCW or LCWRA cannot be included in your payment until you have submitted fit notes from your GP and completed the work capability journey.

 

There is a three month waiting period for limited capability to work meaning when a decision is made, the earliest this can be included in payment is your fourth payment. If the decision takes longer, any amount owed will be backdated.

You can read more about the work capability journey and possible outcomes here.

NOTES:

  • LCW places you in the work prep group for commitments the most you can be asked to do is prepare for work (not work search). 
  • LCWRA places you in the no work group.

  • You can work with LCW or LCWRA, but if your work contradicts your reasons for being awarded LCW or LCWRA, you may be assessed again.

  • For couples, only one Element can be included - whichever is the higher.

  • A LCW / LCWRA Element cannot be included in an award as well as a Carer Element in respect of the same claimant: only the higher Element is included.

Once you have calculated your limited capability to work element if any, write this down and move on to check whether any additional elements apply to your household.

 

Transitional SDP

(If you've never claimed or be entitled to SDP jump to the final section)

For new UC claimants, SDP element can be included for you if:

  • have been entitled (or been part of a couple where one member was entitled) to an award of Income Support (IS), Income-based JSA (IBJSA) or Income-related ESA (IRESA) that included severe disability premium within the month before you became entitled to UC and

  • continue to meet the eligibility conditions for SDP at the time of your UC claim.

If you claim Universal Credit as part of a joint claim and your partner was already claiming Universal Credit, the SDP element will not be included, regardless of circumstances.

You now have an amount for standard allowance and any additional elements that apply to you.

 

The total of these amounts is your maximum Universal Credit without any deductions. This may not be your payment amount.

Be sure to move onto step 2.