Universal credit: How to claim

How much you'll get

Your universal credit payment is made up of:

  • a monthly standard allowance
  • any additional amounts that apply to you

Use entitledto’s benefits calculator to get an estimate of how much you can claim

Standard allowance

The standard monthly allowance is:

Single claimant under 25


Single claimant aged 25 or over


Joint claimants under 25


Joint claimants aged 25 or over


Additional amounts

Additional amounts, sometimes called elements, can be claimed for:

  • children
  • a disabled child
  • limited capability for work-related activity
  • carer commitments
  • childcare costs
  • housing costs

Find out more about additional amounts on GOV.UK

How it is paid

Universal credit is usually paid directly to you as one single monthly payment.

It may be possible to change the way your universal credit is paid if you struggle to manage your money.

When you won't get the full amount

You won't get the full amount if:

  • you get sanctioned
  • deductions are made to pay off a universal credit advance or other debts

Your universal credit can also be reduced if you're affected by the benefit cap.

If you're working

Earned income affects how much universal credit you get.

Your payments can go up or down if your income or circumstances change. This is assessed every calendar month.

How much you get towards housing costs

The housing element of universal credit helps you pay:

  • rent
  • some service charges such as cleaning or maintenance of communal areas

You get the housing element for the home you normally live in but sometimes you can get the housing element paid:

You can't get the housing element if you pay rent to a close family member who you live with.

Your housing element is usually paid directly to you as part of your single monthly universal credit payment. It's your responsibility to pay your full rent to your landlord.

Use entitledto’s benefits calculator to get an estimate of how much you can get towards housing costs

Housing cost contributions

If you rent, deductions known as housing cost contributions are made from your housing element for each non-dependant in your household.

Non-dependants are usually adults who live with you on an informal basis. For example, a friend or family member who doesn’t pay rent.

Private tenants

Your housing element will be worked out using the local housing allowance rate (LHA) for your area.

Your LHA rate is based on:

  • where you live in the UK
  • the number of bedrooms you’re entitled to under the rules

You can usually only get the shared accommodation rate if you are single and under 35 with no children.

Check your LHA rate on GOV.UK

Council and housing association tenants

Your housing element will be based on your eligible rent and how many bedrooms you have in your home.

Eligible rent is the amount of rent you pay minus any service charges that universal credit doesn’t cover.

Service charges not covered include:

  • heating, water or lighting in your home
  • personal care and support
  • meals

The number, age and sex of those in your household affect how many bedrooms you can claim for.

Your housing element will be reduced if you have too many bedrooms.

Hostels, refuges, supported or temporary accommodation

You can claim universal credit if you live in these types of housing but you might not get the housing element as part of your universal credit payment.

You have to claim housing benefit as well if you don't get the housing element.

Ask your landlord or housing provider if you don't know whether to claim housing benefit at the same time as universal credit.


If you’re a homeowner you may be able to get help with your mortgage interest and certain leasehold service charges.

Support for mortgage interest loan

If you're unemployed or can't work, you can apply for a support for mortgage interest loan (SMI) but no payments will be made for the first 9 months of your universal credit claim.

You can get help paying the interest on up to £200,000 of your mortgage or loan if you qualify.

SMI payments are paid directly to your lender. These payments are secured against your home at a variable interest rate.

You must repay the loan and interest if you:

  • sell your home
  • transfer ownership to someone else
  • die

Last updated 13 Mar 2019 | © Shelter

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