Universal Credit has replaced the six legacy benefits with the aim to provide support to individuals on low income to meet basic living expenses. The aim of this blog post is to learn whether someone can claim Universal Credit if their child does not live with them. For a 360 degree overview of the topic, we will also consider a few common real-life situations to assess whether someone in those conditions can claim Universal Credit or not. Towards the end, we will review the basic eligibility criteria to claim this state benefit.

Can I Claim Universal Credit If My Child Doesn’t Live With Me?

No, you cannot claim Universal Credit for your child if they don’t live with you as benefits for children can be claimed by the parent with whom the children live and the parent who has the primary responsibility for them. In such a case where a child does not live with you, their primary responsibility will fall upon the parent that they live with and only they will be able to qualify for a benefits claim.

Parents who are able to claim the child element for their Universal Credit claim receive payment of £244.58 per child per month. If your first or only child was born before 6 April 2017, they can claim a slightly higher amount for that child. This amounts to £290.00 per month.

If both parents share the responsibility of a child, only of them will be able to claim the state benefit for the child as Universal Credit payments cannot be split up for shared responsibilities. However, both parents can choose to receive UC payments in alternate years.

If there is a dispute between both parents regarding the child’s custody, the authorities will consider which parent the child lives with most of the time or whose address is registered as the child’s main residence and that parent will become eligible to receive Universal Credit payment on behalf of the child.

To qualify for Universal Credit, claimants must be able to fulfil the below eligibility criteria:

  • aged between 18 (in some cases it may be 16 or 17) and state pension age
  • unemployed or on low income
  • between the claimant and their partner, total savings are less than £6,000
  • experiencing high costs for childcare
  • suffering from a disability or health condition
  • caring for someone else

The amount of Universal Credit that an individual receives depends on their personal circumstances and income (if any). The basic rate for Universal Credit (without top-ups for housing and childcare) can be classified as follows:

  • If you are single and under 25, you can claim £257.33 a month
  • If you are single and 25 or over, you can claim £324.84 a month
  • If you are living with a partner and both of you are under 25, you can claim £403.93 a month
  • If you are living with a partner and one or both of you are over 25, you can claim  £509.91 a month

Can I Claim Universal Credit If I Am A Stay At Home Mum?

Yes, stay at home mums can claim Universal Credit. To qualify for Universal Credit, claimants must be able to fulfil the below eligibility criteria:

  • aged between 18 (in some cases it may be 16 or 17) and state pension age
  • unemployed or on low income
  • between the claimant and their partner, total savings are less than £6,000
  • experiencing high costs for child care
  • suffering from a disability or health condition
  • caring for someone else

The amount of Universal Credit that an individual receives depends on their personal circumstances and income (if any). For instance, someone who is single and younger than 25 years of age will be eligible for Universal Credit amounting to around £257 per month. Meanwhile, this amount will rise to around £509 for someone who is living with a partner and either one of them or both of them are above the age of 25.

You will be able to claim Universal Credit as per the below classification, depending on the number of children you have:

Number of childrenAmount of Universal Credit
First child£282.50 (born before 6 April 2017) £237.08 (born on or after 6 April 2017)
Second child and any other eligible children£237.08 per child
Disabled or severely child£128.89 or £402.41

Can I Claim Universal Credit If I Quit My Job?

Yes, you can claim Universal Credit if you quit your job voluntarily. However, it is essential that are able to prove a “good reason” for quitting your job if you want to continue receiving your Universal Credit payments without any deductions from the Department for Work and Pension.

A good reason for leaving your job may include (but are not necessarily limited to) any of the following:

  • constructive discharge from your workplace
  • medical reasons that hamper your output/ability to work
  • better employment at another job
  • facing domestic violence at home
  • to care for a family member

According to Citizen’s Advice, good reasons for leaving your job (that will not affect your Universal Credit) payments include the following:

  • taking voluntary redundancy due to reasonable circumstances
  • weren’t paid according to the National Minimum Wage 
  • did not feel safe due to the lack of health and safety standards in the working conditions 
  • did not feel safe due to fear of being bullied or harassed 
  • worked on a zero-hour contract

Can I Claim Universal Credit On An Apprenticeship?

Yes, you can claim Universal Credit on an apprenticeship if it is considered to be a “recognised apprenticeship”. According to the Department for Work and Pensions, apprentices can claim Universal Credit if they fulfil the below criteria:

  • they have a named training provider 
  • they are working towards a recognised qualification or vocational training
  • they are entitled to the national minimum wage

There are no upper or lower limits to the number of hours that an apprentice must work in order to claim Universal Credit. However, as part of your Claimant Commitment for Universal Credit claim, you must be involved in a work-related activity if your earnings are not above the Conditionality Earnings Threshold (CET). In the case of an apprenticeship, this amounts to 30 hours a week multiplied by the applicable minimum wage rate.

In case you are working for more than 30 hours per week during your apprenticeship, you will not be asked to undertake any work-related activity with regard to your Universal Credit claim.

If you have childcare or caring responsibilities for a family member, or a personal illness or disability that restricts you from working 30 hours during your apprenticeship, you will be 

exempted from the work-related activity for your Universal Credit claim.

Can I Claim Benefits When Separated But Living Together?

Yes, you can claim benefits if you and your partner choose to separate as a couple but continue living together. However, if you were claiming benefits as a couple, they may be reduced to single person claims. On the other hand, being separated may make you and your partner eligible for certain other benefits that you were unable to claim before.

If you and your partner were jointly claiming benefits as a couple, it is advisable for you to inform the Job Centre and HMRC of the change in your relationship status as you may no longer qualify for the same amount. Alternatively, you may now be able to claim certain other state benefits due to your single status.

If there are children involved, the parent with the main care responsibility of the children will be eligible for a Working Tax Credit if they work 16 hours a week.

While it is common for couples who separate to continue living together for a while; either due to financial constraints that make joint living affordable or for the benefit of their children. In either case, they will need to provide evidence of being separated while living together in case the authorities visit their house for confirmation regarding their claim.

What Is Split Payment Of Universal Credit?

Split payment is the division of household Universal Credit claim between two members of the household while they continue living together as a couple. It rarely happens in cases where:

  • There is financial mismanagement and/or financial abuse on behalf of one of the partners and the other one informs DWP
  • There is domestic abuse
  • One of the partners is unable to budget for their own or the household’s needs

Even though the Universal Credit amount is split up, the partner who has the primary responsibility of children (if any) will claim a larger proportion of the payment. However, it can be claimed as long as both partners remain together as a couple. 

The reason for providing split payments is to reduce the financial hardship that claimants may have to endure due to any of the above-stated reasons.

Conclusion:

The details discussed in this article bring us to the conclusion that in order to claim the child element of Universal Credit, it is essential that your child lives with you. In conditions in which the child does not live with one of the two parents, Universal Credit payments will only be made to the parent with whom the child lives as they are the ones bearing responsibility for the child’s expenses. 

FAQs: Can I Claim Universal Credit If My Child Doesn’t Live With Me?

How much is Universal Credit per child?

If your first child is born before 6 April 2017, you can claim £282.50 and if they are born on or after 6 April 2017, you can claim £237.08. 

How much do you get on a joint Universal Credit claim?

If you are living with a partner and both partners are below 25, both of you can make a joint claim of a standard amount of £403.93 a month for Universal Credit. If one or both partners are 25 or older, your joint claim can be £509.91 a month.

Can Universal Credit be split?

Yes, Universal Credit payments can be split between two members of the household while they continue living together as a couple. It rarely happens in cases where there is financial mismanagement and/or financial abuse on behalf of one of the partners and the other one informs DWP, there is domestic abuse or one of the partners is unable to budget for their own or the household’s needs.

Can I and my partner claim Universal Credit separately?

As long as you and your partner live together, you will have to file a joint claim for Universal Credit. However, in cases where there is financial mismanagement and/or financial abuse on behalf of one of the partners and the other one informs DWP, there is domestic abuse or one of the partners is unable to budget for their own or the household’s needs, the Universal Credit claim can be split between two members of a household.

How much money can you have in the bank and still claim benefits in the UK?

If you are claiming benefits in the UK, you can have up to £10,000 in savings in your bank account and continue claiming benefits without facing any reduction in your claim.

References:

Children and dependants overview – Entitledto

Who gets child benefit in shared custody? | Qredible

Additional Elements of Universal Credit (UC) – Turn2us

Universal Credit: further information for families – GOV.UK

Can I be a stay at home mum and claim Universal Credit?

Universal Credit and you – GOV.UK

Can I claim Universal Credit if I leave my job voluntarily?

Apprentices: Work-related Requirements under Universal Credit – Turn2us

Joint Universal Credit claims for couples

Sorting-out-benefits-after-separation

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.