Skip to main content
Shelter Logo

Extra help if you get universal credit

You could get extra help with things like rent, council tax, childcare and medical costs.

Help with rent

Universal credit (UC) includes a housing element to help with rent.

If you need more help, you can apply for discretionary housing payments.

Contact your council's discretionary housing payments team

What is your location?

Easy read advice

Find easy read advice about discretionary housing payments (DHPs) on the Mencap website.

Help with council tax

You could get a council tax reduction if you're on UC. This is sometimes called council tax support. Find out about other help with council tax.

Energy bills and the cost of living

Find out about extra help with energy bills and the cost of living.

Help with childcare costs

You can get back up to 85% of your childcare costs through UC.

The most you can get each month for childcare is:

  • £1,015 for 1 child

  • £1,739 for 2 or more children

You get your childcare costs back after you have paid them. They are part of your UC monthly payment.

If you need help to pay for childcare in advance, ask your jobcentre work coach about the flexible support fund.

You do not have to repay money from this fund.

Find out more about UC childcare costs on GOV.UK.

Free school meals

Your children can get free school meals if your income after tax is less than £7,400 a year. This figure does not include any UC or other benefits you get.

Healthy Start cards

Healthy Start cards are to help you buy fruit, vegetables, milk and vitamins if your income from employment after tax is less than £408 a month and either:

  • you have a child under the age of 4

  • you're at least 10 weeks' pregnant

Apply for a Healthy Start card on the NHS website.

Maternity grants

You can get a £500 maternity grant if you’re pregnant with your first child.

If you already have a child, you can get a maternity grant if either:

  • you're expecting twins

  • you have refugee status, humanitarian protection, or a Ukraine visa and this is your first child born in the UK

You can claim up to 11 weeks before you are due to give birth or up to 6 months after your baby is born.

You have to apply on a paper form.

Sure Start maternity grant helpline can help on 0800 169 0140.

Find the form and guidance on GOV.UK.

Advances and hardship payments

You could get a:

Advances and hardship payments are loans from the DWP. They are interest free. But you pay them back through monthly deductions from your UC.

Find out more about UC deductions for advances and debt.

Cheaper internet deals

You could get a cheaper broadband or phone package.

Free prescriptions, eye tests and dental work

You can get free prescriptions and help with eye tests and dental treatment if your earnings in your last assessment period were:

  • less than £435 - if you do not have a child or are expected to look for work

  • less than £935 - if you have a dependent child or are not expected to look for work because of disability or ill health

Take proof that you claim UC and how much you earned in your last assessment period when you get your treatment.

Find out more about help with healthcare costs from the NHS website.

Help with work related costs

Talk to your work coach if you cannot afford things like:

  • training

  • work clothes

  • upfront childcare costs

  • travel to work or a job interview

Your work coach decides if you can get help from the flexible support fund. You might need to show receipts or proof of travel costs.

You do not have to pay this money back.

Free legal advice

You could get help through legal aid.

You could get free advice or representation if you’re at risk of homelessness or eviction.

Last updated: 2 April 2024

If you need to talk to someone, we'll do our best to help

Get help