You may be eligible for financial assistance if you do not have enough to live on.
More than six million people currently receive Universal Credit, a benefit designed to help people who are unemployed or on low incomes with day-to-day living expenses.
The economy is expected to recover as Scotland and the rest of the UK emerge from the closure restrictions, but it is unclear how quickly.
With more households likely to be affected by the economic impact of the health crisis, whether through redundancy, unemployment, sickness or reduced income, many may now be eligible for financial assistance from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
It is essential to note that this advance must be repaid as a deduction from the applicant’s monthly Universal Credit payment; however, applicants now have 24 months instead of 12 months to repay the loan.
You can apply for a Universal Credit advance in the following ways
- Speak to a job coach at your Job Centre Plus.
- Use your online account to apply.
- Call the Universal Credit helpdesk on 0800 328 5644 for more information.
If a Universal Credit claimant fails to report a change in their circumstances, they may face a sanction, which means their payment may be suspended or reduced.
If a person is sanctioned, they may be eligible to apply for hardship support if they are unable to pay for rent, heating, food or hygiene needs.
“You can ask for an early payment after you have made an application if you don’t have enough money to live on while you are waiting for the first payment,” according to the GOV.UK website. You can apply for a hardship payment if you are unable to pay for rent, heating, food or hygiene needs as a result of a sanction.
“You must pay it back through your Universal Credit instalments, which will be reduced until you do.”
People who have financial problems and are struggling to pay their rent can opt for an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA).
The rent could be paid directly to the landlord, the benefit could be paid more frequently than once a month, or the payment could be shared between the individual and their spouse under this scheme.
There is also a budget advance to help with some expenses. Here are some of them:
- Replacing a broken cooker is an example of an unexpected household expense.
- Getting a job or staying in your current job.
- The cost of a funeral
People who receive a Budget Advance will pay it back through their monthly Universal Credit payments, according to the GOV.UK website.
This means that their Universal Credit payments will be reduced until they have paid the money back, and if they lose Universal Credit, they will have to pay the money back in another way.
What is the maximum amount I can borrow?
The minimum loan amount available is £100. You can reach the following levels:
- If you are single, the cost is £348.
- If you are in a couple, the cost is £464.
- If you have children, the cost is £812.
The amount of money an eligible person receives is determined by whether or not they have more than £1,000 in savings and can repay the loan.
To qualify for a budget advance, you must meet all of the following criteria:
- Unless you need the money to help you start a new job or keep a job, you have been getting Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or State Pension Credit for six months or more.
- In the last six months, you have earned less than £2,600 (£3,600 for couples).
- All previous Budget Advance loans have been repaid.
Visit the GOV.UK website to find out more about advances or hardship payments, as well as Budget Loans.
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