Struggling Universal Credit claimants can apply for a budget advance to help them out – we’ll tell you how much you could claim.
The money can be used to pay for emergency household expenses such as buying a new cooker, funeral expenses or for help finding a job or staying at work.
The budget advance is a loan, so it will have to be repaid, but it could come in handy if you have sudden expenses and run out of money.
With Christmas around the cornergetting a budget advance could help those struggling to make ends meet through one of the most expensive times of the year.
Here’s how much you could get for a budget advance, who’s eligible and how to apply.
How much can I get?
The maximum you can get for a budget advance is £348 if you are single with no children or £464 if you are a couple with no children.
If you have children, you can get up to £812 as a loan.
The lowest amount you can get for a budget advance is £100.
Who can benefit from a budget advance and what can I use it for?
To obtain a budget advance, you must have:
- Have been on Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or State Pension Credit for six months or more , unless you need money to help you start a new job or keep an existing one
- Has earned less than £2,600 (£3,600 jointly for couples) in the past six months
- Reimbursed all previous budget advances
How much you can get depends on your ability to repay the loan and your savings of more than £1,000.
Your first £1,000 of savings will be ignored, but the loan amount offered to you will be reduced by £1 for every £1 you have beyond that first £1,000.
You can request a budget advance to cover items such as:
- A unique item – for example, replacing a broken fridge
- Work-related expenses – for example, the purchase of a uniform or tools
- Unforeseen expenses
- Repairs to your home
- Trip costs
- Maternity expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Moving costs or rental deposit
- Essential items, such as clothing
When do you pay it back?
Applicants who have taken out a budget advance loan must repay it within the first 12 months of obtaining it.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) deducts an amount from your Universal Credit payment each month, starting with the first.
You can calculate the amount that will be deducted from your payment each month by dividing the total cost of the loan by 12.
For example, if you borrowed £812, you will see around £68 deducted from your Universal Credit payment each month.
If you stop getting Universal Credit, you will need to agree on another way to repay the loan.
How to request a budget advance
You can apply for a budget advance by calling the Universal Credit Helpline on 0800 328 5644 or 0800 012 1888 if you wish to speak Welsh.
An adviser will then consider whether you can repay the loan – they will see if you have any debts and how much you owe to help you resolve this.
Phone lines are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and you will normally get a decision the same day.
You can also apply via your online account or speak to your Jobcentre Plus job coach.
What other options do I have?
If your application is rejected, you cannot appeal but you can ask for the decision to be reconsidered.
It will help if you can provide new evidence or show that your situation has changed since your first application.
If you are still rejected, you may be able to ask for help at Flexible Support Fund.
The money can be used to cover the cost of childcare, uniforms or work tools, as long as they help you find a job.
This is only supposed to be issued if all other aids have been exhausted – but that does not mean you are not entitled to it.
Alternatively, it might also be worth seeing if you can get a grant to buy off-white products.
In August there were 8,000 charities and organizations in the UK donating money to help struggling families.
Turn2Us has a free grant finder so you can find out what help is available to you.
You will need to research what is available specifically in your area by entering your postcode.
Learn more about what Universal Credit is and whether you may be eligible for a claim.
It comes like the severe taper rate has been reduced which means that households can keep more of the money they earn.
It was a victory for the Sun’s campaign as £1,000 boost hit claimants’ bank accounts Last week.
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