Low income

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a payment to help towards living costs. This support is for people who are unemployed, off work due to sickness, working for an employer or self-employed and on a low income. It provides a monthly payment (for England and Wales; Scotland and Northern Ireland can choose twice monthly payments) which is paid in arrears and intended to help you meet your basic living costs.

Universal Credit takes into account you and your family’s individual circumstances, including housing costs, children, if you have a long-term health condition or disability.

There have been recent changes to Universal Credit and more people will qualify. It is worth taking 10 minutes to check using a benefits calculator. You can check what Universal Credit you may receive at Universal Credit.

Claiming universal credit also allows you to access other forms of support, which can include increased free childcare hours, and reduced tariffs for certain utilities.

You might be able to claim universal credit if you:

  • Are on a low income.
  • Aged 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 or 17).
  • You or your partner are under state pension age.
  • Have less than £16,000 in savings – if you have a partner, their savings count too.
  • Live in the UK.

Find out more about Universal Credit and how to claim.


If you are already receiving benefits because you work and receive low pay, or are unable to work due to a long-term health condition, Universal Credit is replacing six legacy benefits and you can no longer apply for these benefits.

If you’re currently claiming one of the benefits, you’ll be moved over onto Universal Credit:

  1. Child tax credit
  2. Working tax credit
  3. Income support
  4. Income-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)
  5. Income-related employment and support allowance (ESA)
  6. Housing benefit (working age only)

If you currently receive any of the above benefits you will receive a Migration Notice letter as one or more of your benefits will be ending.

The move to Universal Credit is NOT automatic, if you don’t apply in the timeframe shown on your Migration Notice Letter your benefits will stop.

The Migration Notice Letters are being sent out now and within the next 12 months. Please don’t ignore. If you don’t apply in time, you will lose out and your benefits will stop!

If you do not make a claim by the deadline, your benefit and tax credit entitlement will end the day before the deadline date shown on your letter.

If you claim tax credits, your entitlement will end as soon as you make a claim to Universal Credit.

‘Transitional Protection’ (top up payments)

Transitional Protection is an extra ‘transitional’ amount which tops up your Universal Credit award so that you are not worse off when you move onto Universal Credit.

If the amount you are entitled to on your existing benefits and tax credits is more than you’ll receive on Universal Credit, a top up is available. This is called a ‘transitional protection’ payment.

You will only receive the ‘transitional payment’ if you claim by the deadline date on your Migration Notice letter.

If your circumstances change after you’ve made your claim, any transitional protection you receive may stop.

If you currently receive Tax Credits your Migration Letter will show both the HMRC and DWP logos.

Do you receive Tax Credits?

If you claim before the deadline date on your Migration Notice, then some normal Universal Credit eligibility rules do not apply to you. These are:

If you receive tax credits, you can make a Universal Credit claim even if you have money, savings, and investments of more than £16,000. After 12 months, normal eligibility rules will apply. You will not be eligible for Universal Credit if you still have more than £16,000 in money, savings, and investments.

You can apply for Universal Credit online. Claim Universal Credit

You can check your benefit entitlement by using Benefit Calculators

You need to create an account to make a claim. You must complete your claim within 28 days of creating your account or you’ll have to start again.

If you cannot claim online, you can claim by phone through the Universal Credit Migration Notice helpline. Phone: 0800 169 0328

You will be moved on to universal credit if you have a change in circumstances (such as moving in with a new partner or changing job). The Government plans to move everyone currently receiving the legacy benefits by the end of 2024.

You can also choose to move onto Universal Credit and some people will be better off on Universal Credit than on their old benefits, but some will have a reduction. We advise that if you currently receive a legacy benefit, you check before applying for Universal Credit.

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland follow the same guidance for Universal Credit. In Scotland only you can choose to be paid twice monthly, instead of monthly. In Northern Ireland payment is paid twice monthly and you can opt to be paid monthly.

If you’re Self Employed

This information is a guide to help you understand what you need to do if you are self-employed and wish to claim Universal Credit (UC).

How Universal Credit calculates your payment:

  • Your self-employment is assessed on whether you are ‘gainfully self-employed’, to show this you will need to show proof that:
  • Self-employment is your main job or your main source of income.
  • You get regular work from self-employment.
  • Your work is organised – this means you have invoices and receipts, or accounts.
  • You expect to make a profit.

If you’re gainfully self-employed, your Universal Credit payment may be calculated using an assumed level of earnings, called a minimum income floor (MIF). This is based on what it would expect an employed person to receive in similar circumstances.

It’s calculated using the National Minimum Wage for your age group, multiplied by the number of hours you are expected to work. It also includes a notional deduction for tax and National Insurance.

If your self-employed earnings are below the MIF calculated, UC will use the MIF income level to work out your Universal Credit payment instead of your actual earnings.

Find out more information about Universal Credit and self-employment.

Additional Support

If you receive Universal Credit you may also be able to access:

  • Contributions towards School Uniform.
  • Digital social tariffs for broadband and mobile.
  • Social Tariffs for Energy and Water Costs.
  • Water Sure to cap your bills if you have a water meter.
  • Help with housing costs and bills.
  • BT Home Essentials (or KCOM Flex Packages if you live in the East Riding or Hull City Council local authority areas and you have no income).
  • Cold Weather Payment.
  • Disabled Facilities Grants.
  • Discretionary Housing Payments if your Universal Credit payment is not enough to pay your rent.
  • Energy Company Obligation (ECO) Affordable Warmth.
  • A reduction in your Council Tax.

Find out more about other financial support, you may receive and how to claim.

Household Support Fund

This fund is currently for 2023-24 and is to help families with the cost of living. You can apply directly for support, and it can help with the cost of energy and food. Your local council administers the fund, and it is their decision on how and what they will provide help for.

To find out what help is available in your area through the Household Support Fund, contact your local council.


You will find benefit information for support with housing costs and council tax on Perennial Housing Information.

You can check what you might be entitled to by using a benefits calculator or contact our Services Team who are trained to help people access the state benefits they are entitled to. Simply fill in the Services Contact Form or you can call us on 0800 0093 8543 and and one of the team will be in touch.  

All advice is free and fully confidential.

The helpline is open 9am – 4.30pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Open 10am – 4.30pm on Wednesday. Excludes bank holidays.