What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is a benefit for people of working age who are on a low income or out of work.
It is a single payment that combines six existing benefits, including Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance and Housing Benefit. For most new applicants, Universal Credit has already replaced these ‘legacy benefits’, and eventually it will replace them for everyone.
It’s made up of a standard allowance plus various additional elements that may apply, depending on your individual circumstances. It is means-tested and the total you get cannot exceed a maximum amount that is calculated for each household.
What is the Universal Credit carer element?
If you qualify for Universal Credit, you may be able to get an extra amount because of your caring role. This is known as the ‘carer element’. To claim the carer’s element you must be caring for a severely disabled person for 35 hours a week or more.
How much is the carer element?
The carer element of Universal Credit is worth £163.73 a month in 2021-22.
It’s worth £163.73 a month (almost £41 a week) for the 2021-22 financial year.
How do I claim Universal Credit?
Visit gov.uk or call the Universal Credit helpline.
To work out how much Universal Credit you could be eligible for and to find out how the payments work, read How Universal Credit is calculated on Which? Money.
What else do I need to know?
- Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit, so the amount you get will be affected by any income or other benefits you receive, and any savings above £16,000.
- Other means-tested benefits include Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax reduction.
- If you’re already in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, that will count as part of your income when your means-tested benefits are calculated.
- Any means-tested benefit you receive will decrease if you are being paid Carer’s Allowance, although you’ll probably be better off in total. To find out more, read the section ‘What effect would claiming have on other benefits I receive?’ in our Carer’s Allowance article.
- If the person you care for receives a severe disability premium as part of their benefits, they will lose this if you are granted the carer element of Universal Credit.
What can I claim if I still receive a ‘legacy benefit’?
If you receive a legacy benefit, such as Income Support or Housing Benefit, instead of Universal Credit, and you also meet the criteria for Carer’s Allowance, then you may be eligible to have a carer premium added to your benefits. It is worth £37.70 a week.
If you already receive Carer’s Allowance, then you should automatically get the premium.
Carer’s Credit can help fill gaps in your National Insurance record if you can’t work due to being a carer.
If you care for someone for more than 35 hours a week, find out if you could apply for Carer’s Allowance.
Find out how to apply and prepare for a carer’s assessment and discover what to expect throughout the process.