How universal credit is calculated


This is a contract between you and the DWP

Universal credit is made up of different amounts called elements. These elements are added together to give you a maximum amount of universal credit. The elements included are:

Standard Allowance

This is the amount given for the person, or couple, making the claim.

Child element

This is an amount given for each child. It is normally only given for 2 children but there are exceptions to this rule. Contact the Lone Parent Helpline for more details.

Disabled Child Elements

If your child has a disability you would get this element added to your award as well as the child element.

There are 2 disabled child elements:

  • the lower amount for children getting disability living allowance or personal independence payment
  • the higher amount for children getting the highest rate of disability living allowance care component, the enhanced rate of personal independence daily living component or are severely sight impaired.

You will get a disability element for all children who qualify even if you do not get the child element for them.

Limited capability elements

These elements are given to adults whose ability to work is affected by a health condition or disability. There are 2 amounts:

  • the limited capability for work and work-related activity element; or
  • the limited capability for work element because of a health condition or disability.

To qualify for one of these elements you would need to undergo an assessment. The result of this would determine what element would be added to your universal credit award. You would get this element in addition to the standard allowance.

Carer element

This would be added to your award if you meet the criteria.

Housing costs

If you pay rent an amount to help with this will be added to your calculation. You will also get an amount added if you have a mortgage but only if you are not working.

Childcare costs

If you work and pay for registered childcare an amount to help with these costs is added to your award. It does not matter how many hours you work or how much you earn but there is a limit on how much you can get. Only 85% of your childcare cost will be taken into account but the most you can be paid for one child is £646.35 per month or up to £1108.04 per month for 2 or more children.

In short…

The elements you are entitled to are all added together to give your maximum amount. You would usually get this if you are not working or have a very limited income. If you are working or have any other taxable income, such as a pension or a contribution based benefit, your universal credit award could be reduced.

The actual amount of universal credit you receive depends on the number of children you have, any disabilities, housing costs, childcare costs and income so the amount is different for each family.

For more information:

Call the Lone Parent Helpline on 0808 801 0323 or Universal credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.


Alternatively, for more information on starting a new claim, managing your claim, and universal credit FAQ see link below.

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See our Benefits related information, including Universal Credit.

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