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Chapter 16: How income affects universal credit
This chapter explains how much weekly income is taken into account when working out your entitlement to universal credit. If you are claiming income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or housing benefit, see Chapter 17. If you are claiming child tax credit or working tax credit, see Chapter 18.
Basic facts
    Student loans and some grants count as income when working out how much universal credit you can get.
    Loans and grants are taken into account as income during the academic year, but ignored in the summer vacation.
    The maximum amount of student loan to which you are entitled is taken into account as income, whether or not you apply for it.
1. Working out your income
If you have student income (a student loan and grants paid to you for your course), it usually counts as income for universal credit (UC).1Reg 66(1)(e) UC Regs This chapter explains how much monthly income counts in the assessment. Note: you do not count as having student income if you are no longer ‘receiving education’ (see here).2Reg 68(1) UC Regs So if you have left or finished your course and you get a payment of student income, it is disregarded. Note also that one-off, lump-sum payments of student income count as capital (see here).
 
 
Step one
Add together the annual income from grants and loans.
Add the annual amount of any grants, ignoring those that are disregarded, to the annual amount of any loan (see below).
Step two
Work out the period over which your student income counts.
Calculate this from the month in which you start your course until the month before the summer vacation, or end of your course, as applicable (see here).
Step three
Divide income throughout the year.
Divide the amount in Step one by the number of months over which your student income counts for that year (see here).
Step four
Deduct disregard.
Deduct a set amount of £110 from the monthly amount of income from grants and loan.
Step five
Add other income to the monthly amount.
Add any other income taken into account (eg, earnings) to the monthly amount of your grant and loan (see here). This, added to the total at Step four, is the amount of income used in the UC assessment.
 
1     Reg 66(1)(e) UC Regs »
2     Reg 68(1) UC Regs »
If you get a student loan
If you are eligible for a loan for maintenance, it counts as income when working out universal credit (UC). The maximum loan you could be entitled to is taken into account, as though there were no reduction for household income or another grant.1Regs 68 and 69 UC Regs
Any other grants you receive are disregarded, except for any amount for the maintenance of your partner and/or child(ren), and any specific amount for rent payments that are met by UC.2Reg 68(3) UC Regs A dependants’ grant or lone parents’ grant paid as well as your loan counts as income. A discretionary fund payment is ignored, provided it is not for the maintenance of your partner or child(ren), and not a specified amount for rent that is met by UC. Note: a one-off payment from discretionary funds counts as capital rather than income (see here).
 
Taken into account
Ignored
Postgraduate loan for living costs
Postgraduate tuition fee loan
Undergraduate loan
Independent students’ bursary
Young students’ bursary
Tuition fees
Dependants’ grant
Disabled students’ allowance
Lone parents’ grant
Travel expenses
Lone parents’ childcare grant and childcare fund payments
 
1     Regs 68 and 69 UC Regs »
2     Reg 68(3) UC Regs »
If you do not get a student loan
If you do not get a loan, but you receive a grant, the grant income is taken into account for UC (subject to the disregards below).1Reg 68(2) and (4) UC Regs A grant is an educational grant or award, and does not include education maintenance allowance payments.2Reg 68(7) UC Regs
Grant income is taken into account, excluding any payment for:3Reg 70 UC Regs
    tuition fees or exams;
    your disability;
    extra costs of residential study away from your usual place of study during term time;
    the costs of your normal home (if you live elsewhere during your course), unless these are included in your UC;
    the maintenance of someone not included in your UC claim;
    books, equipment, course travel costs or childcare costs.
If you get a grant but no loan and receive a discretionary fund payment, that is disregarded if it is paid for any of the above, and otherwise counts as income. Note: a one-off payment from discretionary funds counts as capital rather than income (see here).
 
Taken into account
Ignored
All students
Help with tuition fees
Undergraduate students
 
Care-experienced students’ bursary
Disabled students’ allowance
Dependants’ grant
Lone parents’ childcare grant and childcare fund payments
Lone parents’ grant
Care-experienced accommodation grant*
Paramedic, nursing and midwifery students
Paramedic, nursing and midwifery bursary
Childcare allowance
Dependants’ allowance for adult and child
Disabled students’ allowance
Single parents’ allowance
Further education students
Bursary maintenance allowance
Education maintenance allowance
Dependants’ allowance
Additional support needs for learning allowance
Care-experienced bursary maintenance allowance
Study and travel expenses allowance
Lone parents’ childcare grant and childcare fund payments
*Note that the care-experienced accommodation grant is normally paid as a lump sum, in which case it counts as capital rather than income (see here).
 
1     Reg 68(2) and (4) UC Regs »
2     Reg 68(7) UC Regs »
3     Reg 70 UC Regs »
3. Dividing income throughout the year
Universal credit (UC) is paid monthly, for an ’assessment period’. Each assessment period runs from the day of the month you claimed UC, for one month – eg, if you claim on the second of the month, each assessment period runs from the second of the month to the first of the following month. The annual amount of your student income must be divided over the number of assessment periods in the course year to arrive at the monthly amount that is used to work out UC.
Student income counts for each assessment period during your course, excluding the one at the end of each academic year and those in the long vacation.1Reg 68 UC Regs
Student income counts as income:
    from the start of the assessment period in which the course/course year begins; and
    for every subsequent assessment period during the course/course year.
Student income is ignored:2Reg 13 UC Regs
    in the assessment period in which the course ends or the long vacation starts;
    in any assessment period that falls completely within the long vacation; and
    if you abandon or leave your course completely, in the assessment period in which you leave.
Long vacation
The ‘long vacation’ is the longest holiday in a course which lasts at least two years, and must last for at least one month.3Reg 68(7) UC Regs
Note that for courses with no long vacation (such as paramedic, nursing and midwifery courses), this may mean that student income is taken into account over 12 months of the year.
Once you have calculated the number of assessment periods in the course year, divide the total annual amount of loans and/or grants by this number, and apply the monthly disregard. An amount of £110 of student income is disregarded in each assessment period.4Reg 71 UC Regs
 
Examples
Laura has a five-year-old daughter and is single. She starts a degree course. Year one of her course runs from 27 September 2021 to 13 May 2022. Her assessment periods run from the third of the month to the second of the following month.
Step one Laura gets a loan of £6,750, independent students’ bursary of £1,000 and lone parents’ grant of £1,305.
Step two Her independent students’ bursary is disregarded. Her loan and lone parents’ grant (total £8,055) count as income over eight assessment periods in the first year of her course (from 3 September 2021 to 2 May 2022).
Step three £8,055 ÷ 8 = £1,006.88
Step four £1,006.88 – £110 = £896.88
Step five She has no other income. Laura’s UC is calculated on student income of £896.88 a month from 3 September 2021 to 2 May 2022. From 3 May 2022, weekly income from her student funding is nil. Laura’s next UC payment in June 2022 will be based on £0 student funding.
 
Paula has a seven-year-old son and is single. Her course runs from 6 September 2021 to 3 June 2022. Her assessment periods run from the 14th of the month to the 13th of the following month.
Step one Paula gets a further education bursary maintenance allowance of £1,120 (40 weeks at £28).
Step two Her bursary counts as income over nine assessment periods (from 14 August 2021 to 13 May 2022).
Step three £1,120 ÷ 9 = £124.44
Step four £124.44 – £110 = £14.44
Step five She has no other income. Paula’s UC is calculated on student income of £14.44 a month from 14 August 2021 to 13 May 2022.
 
Jack is a nursing student and is single with a six-year-old son. Year one of his course runs from 20 September 2021 to 16 September 2022. His assessment periods run from the 6th to the 5th of each month.
Step one Jack gets a nursing bursary of £10,000, a dependants’ allowance of £3,640 and a single parent’s allowance of £2,303.
Step two His student income of £15,943 counts as income over 12 assessment periods (from 6 September 2021 to 5 September 2022).
Step three £15,943 ÷ 12 = £1,328.58
Step four £1,328.58 - £110 = £1,218.58
Step five Jack has no other income. His UC is calculated on student income of £1,218.58 from 6 September 2021 to 5 September 2022.
 
1     Reg 68 UC Regs »
2     Reg 13 UC Regs »
3     Reg 68(7) UC Regs »
4     Reg 71 UC Regs »
Professional and career development loans
Professional and career development loans count as capital if paid as a lump sum. If paid in instalments, they normally also count as capital.1Reg 46(4) UC Regs
 
1     Reg 46(4) UC Regs »
SDS Individual Training Account payments
The £200 payment is disregarded.1Reg 70(a) UC Regs
 
1     Reg 70(a) UC Regs »
5. Earnings
Your earnings and your partner’s earnings are taken into account in the universal credit (UC) assessment. Your net monthly earnings are taken into account – ie, after deducting:
    income tax;
    class 1 national insurance contributions; and
    any contribution you make towards a personal or occupational pension.
Some of your earnings are disregarded if you have children or if you are ill or disabled. This is known as a ’work allowance’. The lower work allowance if you get help with housing costs (rent or service charges) in your UC is £344 a month. You get a higher work allowance of £573 if you have no help with housing costs in your UC. Earnings above your work allowance are deducted at 55 pence for every pound above the allowance. If you do not get a work allowance, 55 pence for every pound of your earnings is deducted from your UC amount.
For full details of the way earnings are treated, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
6. Benefits
Some benefits are taken into account in the assessment of your universal credit, and others are ignored.
Benefits taken into account include:
    carer’s allowance;
    contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance;
    contributory employment and support allowance;
    most industrial injuries benefits;
    maternity allowance;
    retirement pension.
Benefits that are ignored include:
    adult disability payment;
    attendance allowance;
    Best Start grant;
    carer’s allowance supplement and young carer grant;
    child benefit;
    disability living allowance;
    funeral support payments;
    personal independence payment;
    Scottish child payment.
For full details, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
7. Maintenance
Child maintenance payments are ignored completely for universal credit. Other types of maintenance (eg, money from your former spouse to maintain you) may count as income. For details, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
8. Savings and other capital
There are limits on the amount of savings and other capital you can have and still claim universal credit (UC). Some kinds of capital are not counted in the assessment. For details, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
One-off, lump-sum payments of student income count as capital rather than income. This may include the care-experienced accommodation grant, and discretionary fund payments that are not paid regularly or by reference to a period.1Reg 46(1)(a) and (3) UC Regs
You cannot get UC if your savings or other capital are above £16,000.
If your capital is £6,000 or less, it does not affect your UC at all.
If your capital is between £6,000.01 and £16,000, you are treated as though you have income from this capital of £4.35 a month for every £250 or part of £250 between these limits. For example, if you have savings of £6,525, your assumed income is £13.05 a month.
 
1     Reg 46(1)(a) and (3) UC Regs »

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