Top of main content

What is Universal Credit?

If you’re on a low income, or out of work, you may be able to claim Universal Credit.

This is a monthly payment made by the government to help with your living costs. In Scotland, you can choose to have it paid twice a month instead.

Here’s our guide to help you understand how to apply and how much you might get. 1

What does Universal Credit replace?

Universal Credit was brought in to replace:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

If you already receive any of these, you won't need to do anything unless:

  • you need to report a change in your circumstances 
  • the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) gets in touch about moving you to Universal Credit

How do you apply?

Find out how to apply for Universal Credit on the GOV.UK website. If you live in Northern Ireland, you'll need to go to

To apply, you’ll need an email address and details of the following:

  • bank, building society or credit union account
  • housing costs, such as how much rent you pay
  • income (for example, payslips)
  • savings and any investments (for example, shares)
  • childcare costs, if you’re applying for help with these

You’ll also need proof of identity, such as:

  • driving licence
  • passport
  • debit or credit card

You can't claim Universal Credit if you're also entitled to the severe disability premium, or have been within the last month.

How much is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit payments vary because there’s a standard allowance per household, plus other elements you may, or may not, be eligible for. These include housing, childcare and disability.  

The Universal Credit uplift of £20-a-week is to be extended to the end of September 2021. This means, until then, the standard allowances are as follows: 

If you're single and under 25:
£342.72 per month

If you're single and 25 or over:
£409.89 per month 

If you're part of a couple and both under 25:
£488.59 per month for you both 

If you're part of a couple and either of you is 25 or over:
£594.04 per month for you both 

Universal Credit is paid in arrears, but you can apply for an advance payment if you don’t have enough to live on while you wait.

More financial help

You might be able to apply for other financial support related to Universal Credit, including Alternative Payment Arrangements, or a Budgeting Advance. 

The GOV.UK website also has details of how to get help with things like:

  • emergency household expenses
  • funeral costs
  • cold weather payments
  • free school meals
  • legal costs

It may also be useful to look whether there are any benefits you may be entitled to, but aren't claiming.

We also have more coronavirus help and support and advice on money worries

What next?

Find out if you might be eligible for Universal Credit on the GOV.UK website.


1 We’ve made every effort to ensure this article is accurate, but things may change so please check the GOV.UK website for up-to-date information.

It’s easy to answer your query online. Visit our Help page to find out how.