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Last updated:
18/06/2020

How much Universal Credit can I get for mental health?

Calculating how much Universal Credit (UC) you can get for mental health can be complicated, as it's determined by the income and circumstances of your entire household.

In this guide, we explain the Universal Credit allowances and elements that determine how much Universal Credit you can get paid monthly.

How to calculate how much Universal Credit I will get?

Calculating your Universal Credit amount can be done by following these five steps:

  1. Calculate your Universal Credit standard allowance.
  2. Add the Universal Credit elements you're entitled to - such as childcare or housing cost.
  3. Make reductions based on your income, savings and capital.
  4. Take away any further sanctions or reductions.
  5. Check the amount is not above the Benefit Cap.

Your Universal Credit payment can change monthly if your income changes regularly, or if your circumstances change.

Each Universal Credit element has an assessment period, which is one month. At the end of each assessment period, the DWP will calculate your Universal Credit for that month.

1: Universal Credit standard allowance rate

The standard allowance is the basic amount of Universal Credit benefit you will receive - your age determines it and if you live on your own or with a partner.

If you live with a partner, you'll have a joint claim and get one shared payment. The table below shows the Universal Credit standard allowance rate:

Circumstances UC standard allowance rate
Single and under 25 £342.72
Single and 25 or over £409.89
Joint claim, both under 25 £488.59
Joint claim, with one either 25 or over £594.04

Once you turn 25, you will automatically receive the increased Universal Credit standard allowance rate.

You should inform the DWP if you move in with or separate from a partner, as this will affect your Universal Credit. Learn more about telling the DWP of changes that affect your Universal Credit.

Note

The government have decided to increase the Standard Allowance of Universal Credit by £20 per week for the next 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The extra £20 will be included from 6th April 2020 – 5th April 2021. The figures above include this extra money.

2: Universal Credit elements

You can claim additional extra benefits to top up your Universal Credit standard allowance called Universal Credit elements. You may be entitled to more than one of the following:

  • Child element
  • Childcare costs element
  • Housing cost element
  • Limited capability for work element (LCW)
  • Limited capability for work-related activity element (LCWRA element)
  • Carer element

Note

The same person cannot get a LCW or LCWRA element as well as a Carer element even if they are eligible for both.

What is the child element for Universal Credit?

The child element of Universal Credit will be available to you if you're responsible for a child who lives with you.

Universal Credit child element exemptions

You will receive an additional amount for a second child, and for any other child born before 6 April 2017. You won't receive any extra money for a third child born on or after this date - unless one of the following exemption applies:

  • You have a multiple birth - if you have other children born before 6 April 2017, you won't get a payment for the first child in a multiple birth.
  • Your third or later child is disabled - to qualify they must be receiving DLA or PIP.
  • You have a child from rape or a controlling relationship.
  • You're responsible for a child under 16 who has a child, and they both live with you.
  • You've adopted a child from the UK
  • You're caring for someone else's child

We would recommend you speak to a welfare benefits advisor who can help you further with your application.

Universal Credit disabled child addition

If any of your children live with a disability and receive either Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment you will receive a higher amount - irrespective of how many children you have - and you won't be affected by the benefit cap.

You will receive the disabled child element if your child is entitled to either:

  • DLA without the highest rate of the care component.
  • PIP without the enhanced rate of the daily living component.

You will receive the severely disabled child element if your child is entitled to either:

  • DLA with the highest rate of the care component.
  • PIP with the enhanced rate of the daily living component.
  • Or is registered blind

Universal Credit child element rates

The table below shows the Universal Credit child element rates:

Circumstances Child element rate
Your oldest child is born before 6th April 2017 £281.25
Your oldest child is born after 6th April 2017 £235.83
Your second child, and each eligible child after that £235.83
If your child is disabled £128.25
If your child is severely disabled £400.29

What is the childcare costs element for Universal Credit?

If you are working, you can get up to 85% of your childcare costs as part of your monthly Universal Credit payment:

  • Maximum of £646.35 for one child, or
  • Maximum of £1108.04 for two or more children

The following rules apply for the Universal Credit childcare costs element:

  • The childcare costs must be for a child under 16-years-old, or before 1 September following their 16th birthday.
  • The childcare must help you to start working or stay working.
  • You must have a paid job or be about to start a paid career before the start of the next UC assessment period.
  • If you are a couple, your partner must also be:
  • In paid work or have a limited capability for work, or
  • Be a full-time carer or be away from your home for a short time, or
  • Is temporarily absent, for example in prison, hospital or residential care.
  • You will only get help with childcare from a registered childminder, school or local authority on school premises out of school hours.

You cannot claim this element to pay family or friends to mind your child unless they are registered.

Reporting your childcare costs to the DWP

To receive your monthly childcare costs element, you must show evidence to the DWP of what childcare you have paid.

To report your childcare costs monthly:

  • Give the DWP your childcare providers registration number
  • Report the charges on your online account before the day you get your next Universal Credit payment.

If you report your childcare costs late, you will need to inform the Jobcentre why you couldn't report them on time. They will then pay you if they think this reason is valid.

Universal Credit housing cost element

The housing costs element of Universal Credit is available for people who are responsible for the rent or mortgage payments of their home. It may contribute towards or cover all of your rent, mortgage or service charge.

The Universal Credit housing costs element replaces Housing Benefit for people who pay rent, and it replaces the Support for Mortgage Interest scheme for people with mortgages. It will also help people who pay service charges for repairs to public areas in a housing association or council house

Universal Credit does not include Council Tax Support, so if you are responsible for paying council tax, you will need to claim council tax support from your council.

To be eligible for the housing costs element of Universal Credit, you need to:

  • Reside in Great Britain
  • Pay the housing costs for your home

The amount you can get will depend on the area that you live, the size of your household, standard interest rates, and if you're a private or social tenant.

Universal housing element for private tenants

If you're a private tenant, the housing costs element amount is determined on the following:

If you are single and under 35, you will only get enough to rent a room in a shared house.

You may be able to get more help if you get regular overnight care from a carer who needs his or her own room and:

Universal housing element for social housing tenants

If you don't earn any money apart from benefits, you can get help with your rent. Universal Credit will usually cover the whole of your rent if you live in social housing, which is a council or housing association property, but you may have to pay towards your rent if:

You have other income or savings,

  • The local authority thinks you have more bedrooms than you need,
  • Part of your rent pays for bills or services, such as electricity, meals or laundry services, or
  • You have an adult child, friend or relative living with you. They will need to pay towards the rent.

If you're a social housing tenant, the housing costs element is based on your eligible rent - the number of bedrooms you need.

You're allowed one bedroom for the following circumstances:

  • Each adult couple
  • Each person over 16
  • Two children of the same sex under 16 should share a room
  • Boys and girls under ten should share a room, although if one of your children is disabled and your children need their own room, they may be allowed their own room.
  • Any other child
  • An overnight carer who doesn't normally live with you.

Your housing costs element will be reduced by £73.89 per month for each non-dependent adult that lives with you. This will not apply if the person that lives with you:

You are also allowed one extra bedroom if you cannot share a room with your partner because one of you has a disability. To get this, one of you must be claiming:

  • Attendance allowance at the higher rate,
  • The care component of DLA at the middle or higher rate, or
  • The daily living component of PIP, or
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment.

You also have to prove to the local authority that you cannot share a room

If you have more bedrooms than the rules say you need, the DWP consider you to be under-occupying. If this happens, you will get less housing costs element.

If you have more bedrooms than is required, your eligible benefit will be reduced by:

  • 14% for one spare bedroom
  • 25% for two or more spare bedrooms.

Universal housing element if you have a mortgage

If you live in a house or flat with a mortgage and are not earning any money, you may be able to get with a loan from the DWP to help you pay your mortgage costs. The loan is secured on your house, the same way a mortgage is.

Universal Credit will help with the interest part of a mortgage up to the value of £200,000, for the loan. It will not help to pay back the amount you borrowed, and the amount you get is based on the Bank of England's standard interest rate.

You can find out how much the rate is at any time by checking the Support for Mortgage Interest rate here.

You will have to wait nine months from the time you claim until you get your first payment and you will not get any help with your mortgage during this period.

If you have a repayment mortgage, you may have to find another way to top up the mortgage payments; you can ask your lender to switch to an interest-only mortgage.

You have to repay the loan if you sell your house. You can also choose to start paying off the loan if you start working.

Universal Credit housing element for supported housing?

You may live in supported housing, which is when you get care and support as part of your accommodation. Different organisations can arrange this, including:

  • The council,
  • A housing association,
  • A registered charity, or
  • Voluntary organisation.

If you live in supported accommodation, you will need to claim housing benefit. You will not get your housing costs paid through Universal Credit.

The rules around supported housing and supported 'exempt' accommodation are complicated, so if you need advice on supported 'exempt' accommodation, you should contact a specialist housing adviser.

You will continue to get Universal Credit, but you'll get a separate Housing Benefit payment rather than the Universal Credit housing element.

Limited capability for work Universal Credit element

The Limited capability for work (LCW) is for people who are too unwell to work at the time of your Universal Credit assessment. You will have to do work training and work-related activities to help prepare you for work.

The government has made changes to limited capability for work element (LCW). If you claim after 3 April 2017, you will not get an extra payment for getting the LCW element and payments will continue at the rate as the standard allowance.

However, If you have claimed before 3 April 2017 and the DWP have already said you have LCW you will continue to receive an extra £128.25 each month.

Limited capability for work and work-related activity Universal Credit element

The Limited capability for work and work-related activity (LCWRA) is for anyone who is too unwell for work and does not have to do work-related activities.

Most people will not get the LCWRA elements until the three-monthly assessment phase has ended. If you have a terminal illness, you will get the LCWRA element at the start of your Universal Credit application.

If you are eligible for LCWRA, you'll get an extra £341.92 a month, and the DWP won't set a maximum amount - called the Benefit Cap - for what you can get in benefits.

Universal Credit carer element

The Universal Credit carer element is for people who provide full-time care for someone with a physical or mental health disability.

To qualify for the Universal Credit carer element of £162.92 a month you must care for him or her for 35 hours or more a week and the person you care for must also be getting:

You can claim the carer element for Universal Credit if you get Carer's Allowance or not. Still, you cannot get the carer element if you are a professional carer and get paid a salary.

If you are making a joint claim as a couple and both of you care for two or more different people, you could both get an additional carer element.

Unless you have a joint Universal Credit claim, you won't be able to claim the LCW or LCWRA and the carer element – you'll get whichever is higher.

If you have a joint Universal Credit claim, you can get both the LCW or LCWRA element and the carer element but only if you're eligible for one and your partner is eligible for the other.

3: Make reductions based on your income, savings and capital

The next stage for working out how much Universal Credit you can get is to make reductions based on your income, savings and capital.

How your work earnings determine how much Universal Credit you can get

You can still claim Universal Credit if you work, but how much you earn may reduce the amount you receive. Your Universal Credit payment will go down by 63p for every £1 on all of your earnings.

You may pay tax using Pay As You Earn (PAYE); in this case, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) how much you earn.

Universal Credit work allowance

You may qualify for a work allowance which allows you to earn money before your Universal Credit is affected. You can be eligible for a work allowance if:

  • You're in paid work and responsible for a dependent child,
  • You have limited capability for work because of a physical, mental health illness.

The amount of your work allowance depends on whether you also get the Universal Credit housing element

Your situation Work allowance
You get the housing element £292
You don't get the housing element £512

Your Universal Credit payment will go down by 63p for every £1 that you earn above your work allowance.

Claiming Universal Credit when self-employed

There are different rules for earnings if you're self-employed. You must tell the DWP how much you earn every month.

You may earn different amounts every week or month, and in which case, the DWP will assess your income by saying you will make at least a certain amount every month.

This is called the minimum income floor. It's calculated at the national minimum wage, based on a 35-hour week, with an amount taken away for tax and National Insurance.

If you are setting up a new business, the DWP will use your actual earnings in the first 12 months to help you increase your income, rather then using the minimum income floor. Find out more when applying for Universal Credit when you are self-employed.

How your savings and capital affect how much Universal Credit you can get

Capital means how much your assets, shares or investments are worth – the DWP will not count your home and business as assets. It doesn't include:

  • Personal possessions
  • Business assets
  • Your home

Savings means the money you have in your bank, building society or post office accounts, cash and ISAs.

How much your capital and savings are worth may affect the amount of Universal Credit (UC) you get:

  • If you have capital and savings below £6,000, your Universal Credit will not usually be changed.
  • If you have capital and savings above £16,000, you will not get any Universal Credit.
  • If you have capital and savings between £6,000 and £16,000, you can still get Universal Credit, but you will get £4.35 less for every £250 you have over £6,000 in savings and capital.

Taking off benefits

Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Child benefit do not affect your Universal Credit, but the following benefits will be taken off by the same amount:

What happens if my income, capital and savings reduce my payment past the threshold?

If your income, capital and savings reduce your Universal Credit to £0 you will no longer be able to claim Universal Credit - the DWP will inform you if this happens.

You will need to make a new Universal Claim in the future. If your circumstances change and you are therefore eligible for Universal Credit. You can do this by signing into your Universal Credit account.

4: Subtract any sanctions or other reductions

The DWP may reduce your Universal Credit payment for any sanctions or additional reductions. This can include:

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Universal Credit Mental Health Guide

Introduction to Universal Credit

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