Universal Credit: What is classed as low income? How much is a low income?

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Universal Credit claimants have increased massively during the coronavirus crisis. Thousands of claimants are due to get a boost to their income levels from October. But for those looking to claim the benefit, what and how much exactly is classed as low income?

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a payment available to those who are on a low income or out of work.

This payment is a single benefit which is replacing six former benefit payments known as legacy benefits.

These legacy benefits are:

  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit.

Who is eligible for Universal Credit?

To successfully claim Universal Credit you must:

  • Be aged 18 and over, or in some certain situations 16 or 17 years olds are eligible
  • Be under State Pension age
  • Live in the UK and there are extra rules if you are not a British citizen
  • Have less than £16,000 in savings.

If you live with a partner, their income level and savings will also be taken into account.

You may also get Universal Credit if you live with other people, but it may affect how much you receive.

What is classed as low income? How much is a low income?

It may be worth claiming Universal Credit if you:

  • Are struggling to pay the bills
  • Have lost your job and have no income
  • Are earning less income than when you were still working
  • Have a disability or illness which stops you working
  • You have expensive childcare costs
  • Are caring for someone.

There is no set level of income where you stop being eligible for Universal Credit.

Instead, it is contingent on your own situation.

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How much is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is made up of a standard allowance and any additional amounts which you may be entitled to.

The standard monthly allowance is as follows:

  • Single and under 25: £342.72
  • Single and 25 and over: £409.89
  • In a couple and you are both under 25: £488.59
  • In a couple and either of you are 25 or over: £594.04.

Your amount will be reduced if you have income or savings.

You can work while on Universal Credit and if you are in paid work, you might be entitled to a work allowance.

The work allowance is the amount of money you are allowed to earn before your Universal Credit payment is affected.

If you have less than £6,000 in savings, you will have to declare it, but it will not impact your Universal Credit entitlement.

Having between £6,001 and £16,000 will impact your Universal Credit amount, but anything more than that will prevent your eligibility for Universal Credit.

For every £1 of other income you receive, including benefits or pension, your Universal Credit payment will reduce by £1.

How to apply for Universal Credit

If you are entitled to Universal Credit, you can make a claim online here.

You cannot claim Universal Credit and tax credits at the same time, they will stop when you or your partner applies for Universal Credit.

You can also call the helpline to get help making your claim online.

The Universal Credit helpline numbers are as follows:

  • Telephone: 0800 328 5644
  • Welsh language: 0800 328 1744
  • Textphone: 0800 328 1344
  • Video relay service for British Sign Language (BSL) users – check you can use this service

The lines are open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

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