Universal Credit is different than older benefits as it will be just one monthly payment. Your basic allowance and any extra amounts for your rent or children will all come together. If you live in England and Wales, it will be a monthly payment. If you live in Scotland and Northern Ireland you will get paid twice a month.

Everyone who claims Universal Credit will get a basic amount and then you can claim for extra things. Rent or mortgage help, childcare costs and disability support will be added later.

The standard amounts are as follows:

  • If you are single and under 25 – £251.77 / month
  • If you are single and 25 or over – £317.82 / month
  • If you’re part of a couple, and you’re both under 25 – £395.20 / month (one payment)
  • You’re part of a couple, and you’re both over 25 – £498.89 / month (one payment)

There is also a new policy called a Benefit Cap, that is being introduced with Universal Credit. The Benefit Cap will limit the amount of benefits a person can receive in a year. Benefits will be in line with or lower than what a typical family earns in the UK. The Benefit Cap is currently set to £26,000, or £500 a week.

If you have kids, the amount you’ll receive on top of the standard payment is:

  • One child born before 6th April 2017 – £277.08/month
  • One child born after 6th April 2017 – £231.67/month
  • A second child – £231.67/month
  • A child with an illness or a disability – £126.11/month
  • A child with a serious illness or disability – £383.86/month
  • Childcare costs – 85% of what you pay reimbursed (capped at £646.35 for one child or £1,108.40 for two or more).

Will my wages affect this?

If you have a job you can get Universal Credit, but the amount you’ll receive every month depends on how much you earn.

The Department for Work and Pensions have created a ‘work allowance’ for employees. If you have a job and claim Universal Credit, you can take a certain amount of ‘free earnings’. This means that you can earn a certain amount of money without it affecting your claim.

The work allowance changes depending on your circumstances:

CircumstanceWork Allowance
You are single with no children in your care£0.00
You are single with children in your care£198/month
You are single with an illness/disability£198/month
You are part of a couple with no children in your care£0.00
You are part of a couple with children in your care£198/month
You are part of a couple where at least one person has an illness or disability£198/month

So, if you are a single person with no kids, your work allowance is £0. This means that even if you earn £1, it will affect your Universal Credit payment that month. Of course it won’t disappear, but it will reduce a little.

If you have a disability, you can earn £198 a month without it reducing your Universal Credit payments.

After you pass your work allowance, each £1 you earn will reduce your Universal Credit payment by 63p.

Here is an example if you are single and have no children. If you earn £100 a month, your payments for Universal Credit will go down by £63 a month.

If you earn so much that your Universal Credit payment stops, the government will contact you. If in future your income drops again, you can make a new claim. You will need to submit fresh evidence to prove you are eligible.

Universal Credit Surplus

If you are receiving Universal Credit but also have a job, the ‘Surplus Earnings’ rule might affect you.

Each month, you can have a job and claim Universal Credit as long as you don’t earn too much. If you earn enough, you may not receive Universal Credit that month at all. But, if you earn a lot one month, it may affect next month as well. This is what the ‘Surplus Earnings’ rule is about.

If you earn enough one month, your Universal Credit payments will reduce to £0. If you earn £2,500 more from where your Universal Credit payments stop, you will have a ‘surplus’. This ‘surplus’ will not just affect this month, but next month too.

Every pound you earn over that £2,500 limit will carry through to next month and affect your earnings limit. This means that next month your income limit is lower and you might find your payments reduce to £0 easier.

For example, if one month you earn £400 over this £2,500 limit then next month you must earn £400 under it. This will clear your surplus and bring your limit back to normal.

If two months in a row, you go over this £2,500 limit, your claim will stop. You will only be able to claim Universal Credit again once your surplus is zero (i.e. your earnings are small enough).

If you are self-employed, you have different rules. You are allowed to both surpluses and losses through to the next month, instead of just surpluses. For example, one month you earned £2,000 after your Universal Credit payment stopped. This means next month, you have an extra £500 to add to your limit. Now, your surplus limit is £3,000.

If you and your partner have a high surplus but you separate, you will both split amongst yourselves. It will go on your personal account and you’ll be responsible for it as an individual.