Asking for an Advance or Hardship Payment
It can be difficult to pay for essential living costs while waiting for the first UC payment. If so, you can ask for an advance payment.
The best time to request the loan is at the interview with your work coach. You can also call the Universal Credit helpline once you make the claim.
In some cases, you can also to get a hardship payment. This is to help pay for food, rent, hygiene needs, or heating after getting a sanction.
But, if you get a hardship payment you must repay it through your regular Universal Credit payment. That means your monthly benefits would be lower until it gets paid off.
Alternative Payment Arrangements
Having financial difficulties might also mean that you get behind with the rent. Either you, or your landlord, may qualify for an Alternative Payment Arrangement. It would depend on your circumstances, but an APA can help to:
- Get the rent paid directly to the landlord.
- Receive payments more frequently than once a month.
- Provide split payments (for claimants who are part of a couple).
Note: Discuss it with your work coach if you want to apply for Alternative Payment Arrangements (APA).
Getting a Budgeting Advance
A Budgeting Advance can help pay for emergency household costs. Typical examples include replacing a faulty cooker or something to help you stay in work. The repayments would come out of the regular Universal Credit payments. Thus, you would get lower monthly amounts until you pay off the loan.
You still need to repay the money even if you stop getting Universal Credit. The least amount you can borrow is £100, but you could get up to:
- £348 (single person).
- £464 (part of a couple).
- £812 (claimants with children).
Note: The amount you can get depends on whether you have any savings over £1,000 and if you can pay the loan back.
You can check eligibility before contacting your local Jobcentre Plus work coach to apply for a Budgeting Advance. All these must apply:
- For at least six months you have been getting either:
- You earned less than £2,600 in the last six months (£3,600 combined for couples).
- You paid back any previous Budgeting Advance loans that you had.
Help with Housing Costs through the Local Council
In some cases you may be able to apply for:
Other Welfare Benefits Available
You can claim certain benefits that do not take savings and income into account. Check to see if you can apply for either:
- The ‘new style Employment and Support Allowance‘ (ESA).
- The ‘new style Jobseeker’s Allowance‘ (JSA).
Note: Being eligible for Universal Credit means you can apply for these ‘new style’ benefits. The free and accurate benefits calculator can help you find out what other benefits you could get (e.g. Personal Independence Payment for people with a disability).
Other Financial Support Available
Receiving Universal Credit means you may also qualify for other types of financial support such as:
- BT Basic if you have no income (or KCOM Social Access Package for the East Riding or Hull City Council local authority areas)
- Sure Start Maternity Grant
- Free early education (for 2-year–olds)
- Healthy Start vouchers (for expectant mums or with a child under 4 years old)
- Free school meals
- Cold Weather Payment
- Energy Company Obligation (ECO) Affordable Warmth
- WaterSure to cap your bills if you have a water meter
- Disabled Facilities Grants
- Help with court and tribunal fees
- Funeral Expenses Payment
- Help with NHS health costs (e.g. prescriptions and dental treatment)
- Legal aid
- Help with the cost of visiting someone in prison
Note: Getting other financial support while on Universal Credit differs in Scotland and in Wales.
Getting Expert Advice on Money and Debt
Further help and professional advice is available from:
- Your local Jobcentre Plus work coach
- The Money Manager tool from Money Advice Service
- Citizens Advice
- Money Advice Trust
- The Money Charity
- National Debtline
- My Money Steps
- Shelter for help with housing and homelessness
ALSO IN THIS SECTION
Universal Credit Rules: An overview explaining what the Universal benefit system is and how it works.
Universal Credit Eligibility: Most people will qualify if they are on a low income or they are out of work.
Universal Credit Rates: Payments combine a standard allowance and any extra amounts that may apply.
How to Claim Universal Credit: You must apply online and as a couple if you are living with your partner.
Universal Credit Payments: Check how long it takes for the first payment and how often they get paid.
Advance on First Payment: Find out how to get an advance payment to help cover essential living costs.
Claimant Commitment: Check what you need to do and your responsibilities if you get Universal Credit.
Reporting Changes: You must report a change of circumstances while you are getting Universal Credit.