How universal credit is calculated

How universal credit is calculated

Updated 21 June 2018

Universal credit is made up of different amounts called elements. These elements are added together to give you a maximum amount of universal credit. The elements included are:

Standard allowance

This is the amount given for the person, or couple, making the claim.

Child element

This is an amount given for each child. It is normally only given for 2 children but there are exceptions to this rule. Contact the Lone Parent Helpline for more details.

Disabled child elements

If your child has a disability you would get this element added to your award as well as the child element.

There are 2 disabled child elements:

  • the lower amount for children getting disability living allowance or personal independence payment
  • the higher amount for children getting the highest rate of disability living allowance care component, the enhanced rate of personal independence daily living component or are severely sight impaired. This amount is paid in addition to the lower amount.

If it is your 3rd or subsequent child who has the disability and you are affected by the 2 child limit you will still get these disabled child elements.

Limited capability elements

These elements are given to adults whose ability to work is affected by a health condition or disability. There are 2 amounts:

  • the limited capability for work and work related activity element; or
  • the limited capability for work element because of a health condition or disability.

In order to qualify for one of these elements you would need to undergo an assessment. The result of this would determine what element would be added to your universal credit award. You would get this element in addition to the standard allowance.

Carer element

This would be added to your award if you meet the criteria.

Housing costs

If you pay rent an amount to help with this will be added to your calculation. You will also get an amount added if you have a mortgage but only if you are not working.

Childcare costs

If you work and pay for registered childcare an amount to help with these costs is added to your award. It does not matter how many hours you work or how much you earn but there is a limit on how much you can get. 85% of your childcare cost will be taken into account but the most you can be paid for one child is £646.35 per month or up to £1108.04 per month for 2 or more children.

In short…

The elements you are entitled to are all added together to give your maximum amount. You would get this if you are not working or have a very limited income. If you are working or have any other taxable income, such as a pension or a contribution based benefit, your universal credit award could be reduced.

The actual amount of universal credit you receive depends on the number of children you have, any disabilities, housing costs, childcare costs and income so the amount is different for each family.

If you are unsure what elements you qualify for call the Lone Parent Helpline for advice on 0808 801 0323.

How to claim Universal Credit: step by step


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