Universal Credit: Who can claim Universal Credit? Have the rules changed?

Universal Credit, while initially controversial, has proved useful during the coronavirus pandemic. Chancellor Rishi Sunak extended the benefit to help those impacted by mass unemployment, providing some security in an uncertain time. As such, the rules around claiming Universal Credit have slightly changed.

Who can claim Universal Credit?

Universal Credit may act as a supplementary or replacement income for those without full-time employment.

The benefit applies across people’s circumstances, and there is no set income limit for claiming it.

There may be a selection of situations in which people need Universal Credit, as long as they meet the set criteria.


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They can only claim the benefit if:

  • They are 18 or over (in some cases 16 or 17)
  • They are under State Pension age – this varies for most people depending on their year of birth
  • They live in the UK – immigrants may need to follow different rules
  • They have less than £16,000 in savings
  • They are on a zero-hours contract or self-employed
  • Once they meet the requirements, people can claim Universal Credit for several reasons.

They may include:

  • Difficulty paying the bills
  • Unemployment
  • Lower-income but still in work
  • Life-changing disability or illness
  • Expensive childcare costs
  • Other care costs

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Have the rules changed?

The rules around Universal Credit have loosened somewhat thanks to Government intervention.

The same people can claim, but the Chancellor’s alterations should allow more to take a higher allowance.

People may claim an additional £80 per month, or £1,000 per year for a year due to COVID-19.

People may claim more money for housing costs, childcare, disability, and other care, but people will gain access to the following standard rates:

  • Single and under 25: £342.72 a month
  • Single and 25 or over: £409.89 a month
  • Couples both under 25: Both take £488.59 a month
  • Couples both 25 or over: Both take £594.04 a month

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