factchecking myths and misconceptions about universal credit

“I can’t claim universal credit if I have more than two children”

The short answer:

Generally you can’t start a new claim if you have more than two children ... but there are exceptions

If you have more than two children, whether you can claim universal credit depends on whether you have claimed the benefit before – check below to see which applies –

I have more than two children in my family and neither I, nor my partner, have claimed universal credit in the last six months

You will not be able to claim universal credit but can claim tax credits and any other of the other means-tested benefits that apply such as housing benefit, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance or income support. 

This will only apply up to 31 January 2019 - after that date you will be able to claim universal credit whatever the size of your family. However, you will not receive an amount for children born on or after 6 April 2017 unless you were receiving tax credits (or income support or jobseeker's allowance) that included an amount for that child within the six months before you claim universal credit, or an exception applies.

I have more than two children in my family and I, or my partner, have been in receipt of universal credit within the last six months

You will need to reclaim universal credit. The universal credit award will include an amount for all of your children that were born before 6 April 2017. If you have a third or subsequent child born on or after 6 April 2017 your universal credit award will only include an amount for them if an exception applies.

I am already claiming universal credit and I have a third or subsequent child born on or after 6 April 2017

Your universal credit claim will continue but your universal credit award will only include an amount for them if an exception applies.


Law and case law:

Regulations 39 and 40 of the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 set out when a claim for universal credit can be made with more than two children, and the transitional arrangements for moving from tax credits (or income support or jobseeker's allowance that includes an amount for children) to universal credit.


Official guidance:

Information about universal credit and families with more than two children can be found on gov.uk: Universal Credit and families with more than 2 children: information for claimants

Need more help?

If you need help in finding out more about your rights and the options available to you, do consider contacting a local independent advice organisation. 

Enter a postcode on our advicelocal site to find details of advice organisations in your area. They will usually be able to offer free advice and support, and help to answer any questions you have.

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