Universal Credit was designed to help people with their living costs.
People may be eligible for the benefit because they are unable to work, are out of work or because they are on a low income.
This means that you don’t have to be unemployed to be able to claim universal credit, but there are several criteria you must meet in order to be able to claim.
So here is the eligibility criteria for Universal Credit, as explained by the UK government.
You may be able to get Universal Credit if:
- you’re on a low income or out of work
- you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
- you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
- you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
- you live in the UK
If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you and your family usually also need settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to get Universal Credit.
The UK government explains on its website that the deadline to apply to the scheme was June 30, 2021 for most people, but you might still be able to apply. Check if you can still apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
It is worth noting that, if you live with your partner, your partner’s income and savings will be taken into account, even if they are not eligible for universal credit.
If you’re employed, how much Universal Credit you get will depend on your earnings.
When claiming the benefit while working, your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by 63p for every £1 you earn, as explained on the Understanding Universal Credit website.
In other words, you will receive an additional 37p from Universal Credit for every £1 you earn through work, up to a limit that depends on your circumstances.
However, if you’re responsible for children and/or have been assessed as having limited capability for work, you can earn a certain amount before your Universal Credit payments are affected.
This is called a ‘work allowance’, which is lower if you get help with housing costs (£293 in comparison to £515).
Guidance on the Government’s website states: “All this means you can take any job, including part-time work, even if it’s just a few hours a week.
“You can also take work with variable hours, knowing that your Universal Credit payments will increase again if your earnings are lower than usual.
“Universal Credit helps make sure any job will be worth your while, and it could be an important stepping stone to more hours or another role.”