The impact of Universal Credit and work allowances on disabled parents

Go to next case study

This is one of three case studies that looks at wider policy issues and includes a short discussion of an equality issue in welfare benefits that can affect individual clients. It also illustrates how wider equality social policy issues can be identified in welfare benefits work.

Case Study 8: How does the lack of proportionate support in Universal Credit (UC) affect disabled parents who are in work?

Download Case Study 8 (Word doc.)


Disabled people claiming Universal Credit can get a work allowance to help with additional costs. Parents claiming Universal Credit can get a work allowance to help with additional costs. But disabled parents claiming Universal Credit can only get one work allowance to help with additional costs. The additional element for limited capability for work was abolished in April 2017 which means there’s an even greater impact on this group of people.


UC like the legacy system of benefits, offers additional support to disabled people who are working, due to the extra costs they can face when they work – for example paying for extra help with housework because of the tiredness caused by working. To receive this help, they will have to have a work capability assessment and be found to have Limited Capability for Work (LCW) or Limited Capability for Work Related Activity (LCWRA). They will then be entitled to the appropriate element in their maximum amount and also to the disabled person’s work allowance.

However, those who are found to have LCW and are new claimants will not be entitled to an additional element for LCW as the element for this was abolished from April 2017.  The only additional help they will receive therefore is the disabled person’s work allowance worth up to an additional £120 a month for those who rent and up to £250 a month for those with a mortgage or no housing costs.

UC also offers additional support to parents who are working in recognition of the extra costs they face when they work, such as paying 15% of any necessary childcare costs. This additional support is also through a work allowance worth up to £120 or £250 a month depending on their housing costs.

However disabled parents who work can get only one of these two types of additional support with the extra costs they face from being both disabled and parents. This is because only one work allowance can be given for each household. Many disabled parents, especially those who are single parents, as well as the additional costs they face because of their impairment, actually face higher additional costs as parents than non-disabled parents – such as needing to pay for more childcare than non-disabled parents to allow more time for travel or rest.

This policy therefore disproportionally affects disabled people and women.

More information about the policy impacts of Universal Credit work allowance

Citizens Advice policy report, April 2018: Universal Credit and Modern Employment: Work incentives

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) final research report March 2018: The Cumulative Impact of Tax and Welfare Reforms

EHRC, March 2018: Effect of tax and welfare reforms: infographic and evidence review

Share this