Universal Credit

Universal Credit (UC) has started to replace means-tested benefits and tax credits. Eventually the following benefits and tax credits will be replaced by Universal Credit:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based JSA
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

Child element

UC can include an amount for dependent children, called the child element. Kinship carers of a looked after child will not get the child element.

Housing costs element

UC can include a housing costs element to help with rent or mortgage interest. If the claimant lives in rented accommodation the amount of the housing costs element is based on how many bedrooms they are deemed to need (the ‘size criteria’). Looked after children in kinship care are not included in the size criteria. Kinship carers of looked after children (‘approved kinship carers’) are allowed one extra room in the size criteria, regardless of how many children they care for.

Childcare costs element

If the claimant is working, UC can include a childcare costs element for a dependent child or children. A looked after child in kinship care does not count as a dependent. This means that the kinship carer of a looked after child cannot get help with childcare costs for that child through UC.

Work allowance

The ‘work allowance’ is an amount that some UC claimants are allowed to earn before their earnings start affecting the amount of UC they get. Only claimants with a dependent child or children or who have ‘limited capability for work’ get a work allowance. A looked after child in kinship care does not count as a dependent child.

Treatment of Local Authority payments

Any payment made by the Local Authority should be disregarded as income for Universal Credit.