Universal Credit recipients can receive a one-off payment of up to £812 to meet unexpected expenses and obligations.
The extra money is known as a Budget Advance, and is another boost to help with any unexpected bills, but you will have to pay it back.
If you are on a low income, unemployed or unable to work, Universal Credit can help you with your living expenses.
However, the benefits system can sometimes leave you short, and the benefits of up to £812 that you can qualify for can be a lifesaver.
We run through everything you need to know about the money, including how to get it and when to pay it back.
How much is the one-off payment?
The Budget Advance is a one-time payment that can be made in addition to your regular monthly payments.
It is intended to help you meet any emergency payments that your regular Universal Credit cheques cannot cover.
The funds can be used to cover any unexpected expenses or payment increases, as well as to replace appliances, such as a refrigerator, if yours fails.
You can also receive money to cover funeral expenses, products or training related to finding or keeping a job.
What is the procedure for applying for Universal Credit?
THIS PAGE CONTAINS EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO APPLY FOR UNIVERSAL CREDIT. You must apply for the new welfare system through the gov.uk website, starting by creating an online account.
You will need an email address and telephone number to create an account. Next, as part of your ‘to do list’, you will need to answer a series of questions about your current situation.
These include details such as the last time you were paid for a job, your family’s income and how many people are financially dependent on you. Citizens Advice advises that, if you have lost your job, you should wait until you have received your last income and any holiday pay before applying.
This is because any money you receive after you apply for Universal Credit will be counted as income, which will reduce your down payment entitlement. You will then need to verify your ID online.
In some cases you may be able to apply over the phone, for example, if you don’t have a regular internet connection, have a visual impairment or a physical condition that prevents you from using a computer or smartphone. To do this, call the Universal Credit helpline and ask if you can apply over the phone or arrange a home visit. If you can’t get in touch personally, someone may be able to do it on your behalf.
Who can file a claim?
To be able to make a claim, you must meet certain conditions.
For at least six months, you must have been getting Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or State Pension Credit.
Unless you need the extra money to help you start or stay in a new career, this must be the case.
In the previous six months, you must have earned less than £2,600, or less than £3,600 if you are married.
Also, to qualify for a new amount of money, you must have paid any previous version of the Budget Advance.
What is the maximum amount I can borrow?
The amount you can borrow is determined by your ability to repay the loan and whether you have any savings over €1,000.
The first €1,000 of savings will not be taken into account, but the amount of the loan you are granted will be reduced by €1 for every €1 over that amount.
It also depends on your situation, such as the number of children you have.
- The smallest amount available is £100.
- The highest amount you can get is £812, but only if you are a couple with children.
- The maximum is £464 for a couple without children.
- If you are single and have no children, the maximum you can earn is £348.
What is the procedure to apply for assistance?
To get help, log into your Universal Credit account online and write to your job coach to request a diary entry.
Your Job Coach will then be able to tell you if you are entitled to help and, if so, the amount you are entitled to.
You can also call the Universal Credit hotline on 0800 328 5644 for more information and to apply.
The hotlines are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and you will usually receive a resolution the same day.
Before you receive the loan, your ability to repay will be examined. To do this, the DWP will check any other outstanding debts you have.
Is it obligatory for me to repay it?
No. You must pay back the amount as it is a loan. You have to pay it back within one year of taking out the loan.
From the first month after taking out the loan, the repayments are automatically deducted from your Universal Credit payments.
Divide the total amount of the loan by 12 to get the amount that will be deducted from your payment each month.
If you borrowed the full £812, your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by £68 a month.
If you stop receiving Universal Credit, you will have to find another way to pay it back.