Single Parent FAQs: Universal Credit


Our advice and information team, who work on our Lone Parent Helpline, webchat and Ask a Question feature, receive questions from single parents around Scotland every day. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a significant rise in requests for advice.

Our new feature – Single Parent FAQs – on our newsletter and blog spotlights Frequently Asked Questions on a different topic each month.

This month, we’re looking at Universal Credit, which is among the topics single parents ask us about most.

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See the first two Issues of Single Parent FAQs on child maintenance and child contact.

Remember you can submit your own question via the Ask A Question feature on our website any time and our expert advisers will respond. This is open to single parents, their families, or anyone working to support single parent families – keep your questions coming!


Universal Credit FAQs

Q. What is Universal Credit?

A. Universal Credit provides financial support for living expenses, housing costs and childcare costs to working age people both in and out of work and their families. The amount you get is based on your income.

Q. How often do you receive Universal Credit?

A. Universal Credit is normally paid monthly on the same date each month, however if you are due to receive your Universal Credit on a Saturday or Sunday then you should receive it on Friday. In Scotland there are Scottish Choices which mean you can ask for your Universal Credit to be paid twice a month if you are finding it hard to budget.

Q. I am receiving tax credits. Can I claim Universal Credit?

A. Universal Credit replaces working and child tax credits, income support, jobseekers allowance and housing benefit, so you cannot claim Universal Credit and tax credits at the same time. If you think you would like to claim Universal Credit, always seek advice to make sure you will not be financially worse off.

Q. I do not have access to the internet. How can I make a claim?

A. Universal Credit is usually applied for online and this is the preferred way to claim. However, you can call the Universal Credit helpline if you don’t have access to the internet or have sight issues or are not confident using a computer or smartphone. The Universal Credit helpline can be called Monday to Friday 8am till 6pm to make the claim over the phone on 0800 328 5644.

Q. I am going to be starting work. Can I get help with childcare costs through Universal Credit?

A. Depending on your circumstances you can receive up to 85% of your childcare costs up to £646 for one child and £1108 for two or more children. You could call our Lone Parent Helpline on 0808 801 0323 and we can do a calculation for you on your new circumstance to work out your new Universal Credit award.

Q. I have savings. Can I still make a claim for Universal Credit?

A. You can have up to £6000 in savings and receive a full Universal Credit award. For every £250 you have over the £6000 you would have £4.35 deducted from your award. For example if you had £7000 in savings then you would have £17.40 deducted from your Universal Credit award. If you have £16,000 or more you would not be entitled to Universal Credit.

Q. Do grants from charities reduce your Universal Credit payment?

A. No, any income you receive from voluntary sources – such as from friends and family or from charities – is disregarded completely when calculating benefits. This means the amount of benefit you are entitled to is not affected by this kind of income.

Q. When will I be moved from my benefits onto Universal Credit?

A. If you have a change in circumstances, then you may have to claim Universal Credit. For example, starting work would mean you might have to make a Universal Credit claim. Or, if you are currently claiming Income Support and your child turns five, or if you have to claim Housing Benefit for the first time, you will be moved to Universal Credit (which replaces several benefits which are no longer available for new claims). Always seek advice.

The DWP has started the migration of moving from legacy benefits to Universal Credit and they hope to have this completed for September 2024, so claimants will be invited to claim Universal Credit by this time.

Q. I have moved from tax credits and Income Support to Universal Credit. When will the tax credits and  Income Support stop?

A. Your calculation for Universal Credit starts the day you claim it so any other benefits will stop on that date. HMRC will let you know if you have been over or under paid tax credits and arrange to pay any money you are owed or collect any overpayments. If you were due a payment of Income Support you will get it for the time up to the date you claimed Universal Credit.

Q. I share the care of my children with their mother. She is getting Universal Credit for them – can I get it too?

A. Both parents cannot claim Universal Credit for the same children even if they share their care. It is usually paid the the parent who has the children staying with them most of the time. If the children stay the same amount of time with both parents, say a week with one parent then a week with the other, the parents can chose who should claim.

If there is more that one child, each parent can claim Universal Credit for different children but this would also affect any help they get towards rent included in their Universal Credit.

Q. I receive Universal Credit, but I do not think I am getting what I am entitled to. What can I do?

A. If you think the amount of Universal Credit is wrong, you can have a look in your online journal and speak to your job coach. If you disagree with your Universal Credit award you can ask for a mandatory reconsideration, and if you still disagree with their decision then you can ask for an appeal.

Still have questions?

Contact our advisers via our Lone Parent Helpline on 0808 801 0323.

Or get in touch via the webchat, email or submit a question at our 'talk to us' section. We can offer advice and information on issues affecting single parents, including benefits, childcare, separation, work, child maintenance and more.

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