Who can get Universal Credit?

TIP: Universal Credit is not just for people who have lost their job – it’s also for those who work but need extra help. Many workers don’t claim it when they are entitled. You could use an online benefit calculator to find out whether you’re entitled or not.

Who can get Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is for people of working age, designed to top up your income to a minimum level and help you with your housing costs (rent and some service charges).

Universal Credit is for people on a low to moderate income. It does not matter whether you are working or not, or the reason why you are not working.

To be able to claim Universal Credit:

  • You must be aged 18 or over (some 16 and 17 year olds can claim).
  • You must be under pension age ie under 66 (or have a partner who is under pension age).
  • You must have a low enough income (how low will depend on your circumstances).
  • You must have savings below £16,000.
  • You must not be excluded from claiming – this includes certain people from abroad, some students, and families who get Tax-Free Childcare.

Anyone of working age who meets these conditions can claim UC. Although whether you receive any and how much depends on your personal circumstances – see How much overview for more information.

BUT only certain people have to claim – see Do I have to claim?.

And before claiming – see Lots to think about.

Iqbal is 45 years old. He lives on his own in a rented flat. He’s been working full-time, 35 hours a week, as a delivery driver. He has £7,000 in savings and he has always thought that this would mean he wasn’t entitled to benefits. When he has to drop his hours due to needing to help out his elderly parents his wages drop and he now earns £15,600 a year before tax. His Income Officer suggests he claims Universal Credit and he is surprised to find that he is entitled to about £170 a month.

Anita has been claiming Income Support, Housing Benefit and Child Tax Credit. She’s found a job that starts on Monday. She wasn’t sure how this would affect her benefits so she spoke to a Benefits Adviser. They explained that as she was going to be working over 16 hours a week her Income Support would stop, but that she had options. She could claim Universal Credit, or she could stay on Tax Credits (and get some Working Tax Credit) and Housing Benefit. When they worked out her entitlements the Benefits Adviser worked out that, due to her particular circumstances she would be better off staying on Tax Credits and Housing Benefit and helped her sort this out.

IMPORTANT: Unlike the system it replaces there are no ‘hour rules’, so regardless of how many hours you work you can make a claim for Universal Credit. Although any earnings can affect how much you get, and whether you are entitled or not will depend on your personal circumstances.

IMPORTANT: The Universal Credit rules are different and some people not currently entitled to benefits may be able to receive a financial top up from Universal Credit – seek advice from a Benefits Adviser or use an online benefit calculation tool.