Step 1

Working out your maximum Universal Credit

Every Univeral Credit calculation and statement starts by working out the maximum amount of Universal Credit that applies in your circumstances. The DWP call this the “Total entitlement before deductions” which is how it will appear on your Universal Credit statements.

To do this you need to add together all your Standard Allowance and all the other Elements that apply in your circumstances.

Standard Allowance

Everyone who claims Universal Credit gets a Standard Allowance included in the calculation. The amount of your depends on your age and if you have a partner.

Your circumstancesStandard Allowance
Single and under 25£265.31
Single and 25 or over£344.91
Living with a partner and both under 25£416.45
Living with a partner and one or both over 25 £525.72
Child Element

You’ll get a Child Element added to your Standard Allowance if you’re responsible for a child (or qualifying young person) who normally lives with you. You’ll get extra amounts for a second child. If you have more than 2 children, you’ll usually only get extra money for subsequent children if they were born before 6 April 2017.

Amount per child
Eldest child (if born before 6th April 2017)£290.00
Eldest child (if born on or after 6th April 2017)£244.58
Second child £244.58
Subsequent children (if born before 6th April 2017)£244.58
Subsequent children (if born on or after 6th April 2017) unless an exemption applies (see below)£0.00
Exemptions from the two-child limit

You’ll usually only get an additional payment for your third child or subsequent children if they were born before 6 April 2017.

There are some exceptions – you might still get a payment for your third child or subsequent children if:

  • you have a multiple birth, like twins – if you have 2 or more other children you won’t get a payment for the first child in a multiple birth
  • you’ve adopted a child from the UK (unless you were the child’s step-parent immediately before adopting them)
  • you’re caring for someone else’s child in a formal care arrangement
  • you’re caring for someone else’s child in an informal care arrangement where otherwise they’d be in care
  • you have a child from a pregnancy that was from rape or a controlling relationship
  • you’re responsible for a child under 16 who has their own child and they both live with you

You can check the exceptions and how to apply for them on GOV.UK.

Disabled Child Element

The Severely Disabled Child Element is payable if you are responsible for a child (or qualifying young person) who is:

  • Registered blind or severely sight impaired;
  • entitled to the higher rate of the DLA care component; or
  • entitled to the enhanced rate of the PIP daily living component

The Disabled Child Element is payable if you are responsible for a child (or qualifying young person) who is:

  • entitled to any other rate of DLA; or
  • entitled to any other rate of PIP
Amount per child
Disabled Child Element£132.89
Severely Disabled Child Element£414.88

Housing Element (if you rent from a private landlord)

If you rent privately the amount of rent included in your Housing Costs Element may be limited by the Local Housing Allowance. People often think that the Local Housing Allowance is a benefit in its own right. It is not. It is a rule that determines the maximum amount of your Universal Credit Housing Costs Element (or your Housing Benefit under the old system).

Housing Element
Rent is more than the LHA rateLHA rate (minus any deductions – see below)
Rent is less than the LHA rateYour rent amount (minus any deductions – see below)

Working out which rate of the LHA applies

It doesn’t matter how many bedrooms you actually have. It only matters how many bedrooms you are entitled to under the LHA rules.

If you are single and under 35 you’ll only be entitled to the ‘shared accommodation rate ‘ but there are exceptions. If the shared accommodation rate applies to you then you shouldn’t use the bedroom calculator below, you should just enter your postcode and the shared accommodation rate will be displayed.

Otherwise use the bedroom calculator below and then enter your postcode and you’ll be shown the LHA rate that applies to you.

The figures shown above are weekly figures. There is a complex calculation to convert these weekly amounts into monthly amounts. The box below will do this for you.

Deductions for other adults living with you

These are sometimes called ‘non-dependent deductions’ or ‘housing costs contributions’.  Non-dependants are often parents, grown-up children, friends, or relatives. The deduction is made because the government thinks they should be making a contribution towards the housing costs.

There are three important points to note about this general rule:

  1. Not every adult who lives with you is a non-dependent;
  2. Some people who are non-dependents don’t have deductions made for them;
  3. If you or your partner (the claimants) are getting certain disability benefits there will never be any deductions
Amount deducted from the Housing Element
Flat rate deduction for each ‘non-dependent’ who lives with you£77.87
These people are not non-dependents
  • A child (or qualifying young person)
  • Your partner
  • Your landlord
  • A joint tenant
  • Someone who pays rent to you (on a commercial basis) as your lodger or sub-tenant
No deduction if the non-dependent is:
  • under 21
  • receiving Pension Credit
  • receiving the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the middle or highest rate
  • receiving the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – at either rate
  • receiving Attendance Allowance (AA) – at either rate
  • receiving Carer’s Allowance
  • the primary carer for a child aged 4 or under
No deduction if you or your partner are:

Certified as severely sight impaired or blind; or are receiving:

  • Attendance Allowance (AA) – at either rate
  • the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – at either rate
  • the middle or the higher rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Carer Element

You’ll get a Carer Element included in your maximum Universal Credit amount if you look after a ‘severely disabled person’ for at least 35 hours a week. A severely disabled person is someone who (including a child) who is entitled to any of the following benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance (AA) at either rate;
  • the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at either the higher or the middle rate;
  • the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) at either rate;
  • Constant Attendance Allowance paid with a war disablement pension or industrial injuries benefits; or
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
Amount
Carer Element£168.61

It is worth noting that, unlike Carers Allowance, there are no rules about how much you can earn and still be entitled to the Carer Element.

Childcare Costs Element

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 85% of the childcare costs you have paid for in the monthly assessment period up to a maximum amount (shown in the the table below)

Number of children (receiving childcare)Maximum amount
One£646.35
Two or more£1108.04

Limited Capability for Work (LCW) Element

The LCW Element is abolished from 03/04/2017. You will only be entitled to receive the LCW Element if you were either:

  • entitled to the LCW element before that date; or
  • entitled to the Work-Related Activity Component in an ESA claim before that date
Amount
Limited Capability for Work Element£132.89
  • You can’t get both the LCW Element and the LCWRA Element at the same time. If you’re entitled to both then you will receive the LCWRA Element only
  • For couples, only one Element can be included – whichever is the higher

Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity (LCWRA) Element

The Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity (LCWRA) Element is an extra amount for people who are too sick or disabled to work or do what the DWP call ‘work-related activity’. Most people will only receive this extra amount after undergoing a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) this assessment takes at least three months.

Who can get the LCWRA Element without an assessment

The extra amount will start to be paid immediately if you:

  • are terminally ill
  • get (or were getting) ESA with the Support Component
  • are over pension age and are receiving the enhanced rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the higher rate of Attendance Allowance (AA); or the highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Amount
Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity (LCWRA) Element£354.28

Transitional SDP Element

SDP stands for Severe Disability Premium. Some people who were claiming Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or Attendance Allowance (AA) were entitled to the SDP as part of a claim for one of their JSA, ESA, or Income Support claims.

You should get extra money called a ‘transitional element’ if you were entitled to an SDP with:

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA);
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA); or
  • Income Support

You won’t get the transitional element if you start living with a partner who is claiming Universal Credit.

Working out the Transitional SDP Element is complicated and you may need to seek professional benefits advice.

In your first assessment period, the amount you’ll get will depend on your situation. If you’re in more than one of these situations, you’ll get whichever amount is higher.

Transitional Element in your first assessment period
You have a joint claim and were getting the couple rate of SDP£405
You have a single or joint claim that doesn’t include the limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA) element£285
You have a single or joint claim that does includes the limited capability for work-related activity (LCWRA) element£120

The DWP will reduce your transitional element if your other Universal Credit elements increase. This doesn’t apply to the childcare element – it won’t affect your transitional element.

Transitional Element (managed migration)

This is an amount intended to ensure that people who are moved to Universal Credit under a process called ‘managed migration’ are not worse off as a result. It is very unlikely that this applies to you as managed migration has only been piloted in Harrogate and the pilot was suspended in March 2020.