Universal credit: Passported benefits
The extent to which eligibility to Universal Credit passports the claimant(s), and their household, to other ‘passported’ benefits, such as free school meals and health costs is constantly changing as more claimants enter the system.
Each Government department sets its own criteria and therefore advisers will need to check the latest information for the relevant passported benefit.
Initially, in most parts of the country, all UC claimants had entitlement to passported benefits. However since then, earnings requirements have been added. These vary depending on which part of the country the claimant lives.
The following links are to information and announcements about the different passported benefits:
Healthy Start Scheme
Universal Credit is a qualifying benefit for the Healthy Start Scheme for pregnant women, mothers and children who are either entitled to or who are the responsibility of a person entitled to universal credit, with an earned income (after deduction of tax, national insurance and pension contributions) of £408 or less per assessment period. The £408 earnings threshold is to be met in either the most recent complete assessment period or the assessment period immediately preceding it. In the latter case, entitlement continues for a further 8-week run-on period if earnings continue to exceed the earnings threshold (NHS).
Free School Meals (Department for Education)
In England, from 1 April 2018, a child may be able to get free school meals if the parent/guardian gets Universal Credit and the household's net income is no more than £616.67 in the preceding assessment period (there are rules which allow for averaging net income over a longer period and some transitional protection for those already in receipt of free school meals) see GOV.UK for more information.
In Scotland, you can claim free school lunches if you are receiving Universal Credit with net income no more than £726 in the assessment period.
In Wales, from 1 April 2019 there is a UC earnings threshold. The threshold is £616.67 a month (based on 1/12 of an equivalent annual income of £7,400). The threshold applies to earnings calculated over a relevant period - which may be the previous 1, 2 or 3 UC assessment periods.
The regulations also allow for transitional protection in certain cases (before 1 April 2019, there is no maximum earnings threshold and entitlement to free school meals is linked to receiving any amount of Universal Credit).
In Northern Ireland, you can get free school meals if you are receiving universal credit with net income below £14,000.
You qualify for help with health costs in England, Wales and Scotland if you:
- Receive UC and had net earned income of £435 or less in the last UC assessment period; or
- Receive UC which includes an element for a child and/or you (or your partner) had limited capability for work and work related activity and had net earned income of £935 of less in the last UC assessment period
If you are part of a couple, then these thresholds apply to your combined income
According to the NHS website, currently not all health costs claim forms have a tick-box for UC. In those cases the box for income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance should be ticked instead.
Claimants who get universal credit may qualify for help with funeral costs. There are other entitlement conditions associated with help with funeral costs, including rules about the claimant's relationship with the deceased.
Other passported benefits
There are many other passported benefits that may be relevant for UC claimants. The following links take you to the relevant information:
Last reviewed/updated 23 May 2023