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A Hardship Payment is some emergency money to help you cover household expenses like food and bills. If your Universal Credit has been cut because of a sanction or a penalty for fraud, you can apply for a Hardship Payment.
A Hardship Payment is a loan so you’ll have to pay it back. Repayment of your Hardship Payment usually starts when your Universal Credit Sanction ends. The DWP will take monthly repayments from your Universal Credit payment until you’ve paid it off in full.
Are you eligible for a Hardship Payment?
To be eligible for the Hardship Payment you have to meet all of the following criteria:
- You must be 18 or over, except if your payment is reduced because of fraud, then you must be 16 or over.
- You must be struggling to meet your basic needs or the basic needs of a child or young person you are responsible for. This includes things like paying for accommodation, heating, food and hygiene.
- You'll only be eligible if the reason you can't meet your basic needs because of a Universal Credit sanction.
- You must have stopped spending money on non-essential things wherever possible. The Jobcentre Plus expects you to only spend money on meeting basic needs and might expect you to spend less on leisure and entertainment etc.
- You must have done everything possible to try to get money from other sources. You must do this before you apply for a Hardship Payment. The Jobcentre will assess the whether you've done enough to source money subject to your circumstances. For example, you won't be expected to sell your possessions, get a loan or credit card, or move house. But you could be expected to ask friends or family for money, looked for other benefits and grants (e.g. from your local council, or local charities), or ask for extra hours if you work.
- You must have completed all the work-related activities you were supposed to do in the 7 days before you apply for a hardship payment.
How to get financial help if you’re not eligible for a hardship payment
If you're not eligible for a Hardship Payment, there may be other ways to get help with living costs.
How to apply for a Hardship Payment
Contact the Universal Credit helpline to apply for a hardship payment. If you’re a couple claiming Universal Credit, either of you can apply for a Hardship Payment.
A Hardship Payment only covers a limited time up to your next Universal Credit payment. You can apply for another Hardship Payment if you'll still be suffering financial hardship and you're unable to meet “basic needs” for the following month.
What you'll need to apply for a Hardship Payment
You must give any evidence you're asked for to support your Hardship Payment application. For example, you may have to give evidence of:
- what you’ve done to try and find other sources of money to help meet your basic needs
- details of any other income or savings you may have to help pay for your basic needs
- how you’ve budgeted to reduce spending non-essentials, for example; entertainment and leisure
- details of the basic living costs you’re struggling to meet
If you can provide a budget with your monthly income and living costs it will help with your application. It will help evidence what you're spending money on and if you don't have enough money to pay or basic needs.
How much money is a Hardship Payment?
You'll get paid about 60% of the money sanctioned from your Universal Credit payment in the last month.
Is your Hardship Payment not enough money to cover your costs?
There many be other ways to help get more money to help with living costs while you're being sanctioned.