Universal Credit: Basic allowances are in place but these elements could raise payments
For anyone claiming Universal Credit, they will get one basic allowance for the household. There are four basic allowances in place which are affected but specific circumstances. Single claimants under 25 will receive £251.77 per month and claimants over 25 will receive £317.82. These rates will change if people within a couple or partnership claim jointly. Claimants in these circumstances will receive £395.20 per month if they’re below 25 and £498.89 per month will be received for anyone older than that.
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This basic allowance could then be expanded with additional elements.
These elements are focused around certain parts of life that could affect a person’s income potential.
Examples include childcare, illness and disability aspects. Claimants looking after a child under the age of 16 can be entitled to an extra £277.08 per month for a first or only child born before 6 April 2017 and £231.67 per month per child in all other circumstances.
It is only possible to claim this child element for a maximum of two children and there are further payments available for children who suffer from certain disabilities.
There are additional elements available for childcare costs as well as the children themselves.
So long as the claimant is working, they can receive up to 85 percent of their childcare costs paid for up to a maximum of £646.35 per month for one child, or £1,108.04 per month for more children.
The Money Advice Service make it clear that if a claimant is entitled to Universal Credit, they cannot also get tax-free childcare payments on top of this.
Both parents or partners must also be working to be applicable for this element unless certain exceptions are in place.
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If the claimant has limited capacity for work or work-related activities than they may be entitled for another element.
So long as the claimant satisfied the Work Capability Assessment and had a limited capability for work related activity, they may have received an additional £336.20 in prior years.
However, the rules for this specific element changed in 2017. The limited capability for work element became no longer available for Universal Credit claimants after 3 April 2017.
Claimants will now get an additional £126.11 per month if they satisfy the work capability assessment.
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Carers for severely disabled people could also be entitled to further payments.
If the person is taking care of someone for at least 35 hours a week they may get £160.20 per month.
This will only be available so long as the carer is not receiving any income or earnings from their caring responsibilities.
This element will only be available for one carer, meaning if partners are claiming together they will need to decide which one of them will receive the money.
One of the more complex elements is housing costs. The housing costs element will help pay for rent and some service charges.
However, the amount received will depend on where the claimant lives and their specific tenant situation.
Private tenants will be evaluated using local housing allowance system for where they live, which is calculated using a formula that compromises rental prices for the area as well as the claimants specific needs.
Social housing tenants will be evaluated using the eligible rent system. This eligible rent takes into consideration the number of bedrooms needed and additional components like children in the household.
Taking into account all of these elements, it is possible for universal credit claimants to receive thousands of pounds in monthly payments.
However, the complexity of the system does not end with the additional elements as working hours are taken into account.
Any income brought in by claimants can reduce the amount they receive in payments, even if they hit all the previously mentioned criteria.
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