Universal Credit: How does Universal Credit work for couples?

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Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit which is offered to those who are struggling financially because they are on a low income or out of work. For couples both claiming Universal Credit, joint claims can be made – but how does it work for couples?

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a benefit which replaced six existing benefits.

The legacy benefits it replaced are:

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

How does Universal Credit affect couples?

If you live as a couple, you may be entitled to claim Universal Credit.

This means you would receive a single monthly payment for your household.

You may even be asked to claim Universal Credit as a couple if you live in the same household and are married, civil partners or live together as if you are married.

Do you as a couple qualify for Universal Credit?

If you are both working, you may still be able to claim Universal Credit if you take home less than £541 a month between you.

If one of you is claiming benefits which will be replaced by Universal Credit, these benefits will stop as you will have to make a new claim as a couple.

If you are claiming Universal Credit and start living with a partner who claims tax credits, they will no longer be able to receive them, because Universal Credit is based on household income and you cannot claim Universal Credit and tax credits at the same time.

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How is Universal Credit paid to couples?

To receive Universal Credit payments you must have a bank account, building society or credit union account which can make and receive payments.

You will be asked to say which account your money should be paid into.

This account can be either a single account in either your name or your partner’s name or a joint account in both of your names.

If you have children, your Universal Credit work coach will tell you to put the money into the bank account of the main carer.

How much could you get?

The amount of Universal Credit payment you might receive is contingent on your circumstances.

It is made up of a standard allowance and any extra amounts which apply to you such as having children, having a disability or health condition which impacts your ability to work or a need for help to pay your rent.

The standard allowance rates for a couple are as follows:

  • If you are both under 25: £488.59 (for you both per month)
  • If you are both 25 and over: £594.04 (for you both per month).

You may be entitled to the following extra amounts:

  • For your first child if born before April 6, 2017: £281.25 per month
  • For your first child if born on or after April 6, 2017: £235.83 per month
  • For your second child and any other eligible children: £235.83 per child per month
  • If you have a disabled or severely disabled child: £128.25 or £400.29 per month
  • If you need help with childcare costs: Up to 85 percent of your costs, up to £646.35 for one child and £1,108.04 for two or more children.
  • If you have a limited capability for work and work-related activity due to a disability or health condition: £341.92 per month
  • If you have limited capability for work and you started your health-related Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claim before April 3, 2017 due to a disability or health condition: £128.25 per month.
  • If you provide care for at least 35 hours a week for a severely disabled person who receives a disability-related benefit: £162.92 per month.

How to claim

You can apply for Universal Credit online here.

If you need help with your claim, call the Universal Credit helpline free on:

  • Telephone: 0800 328 5644
  • Textphone: 0800 328 1344

The helpline is open from 8am to 6pm on Monday to Friday (closed on bank and public holidays).

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