Hardship payments are available if you find yourself struggling to afford basic things. This works like a loan, which you will pay back through future Universal Credit payments.
To apply, you have to be at least 18 years of age and prove that you tried every other option to support yourself.
Your first Universal Credit payment will usually come 5 weeks after you apply. If you have no savings and find yourself struggling to wait that long, you can apply for an ‘advanced payment’. This is an advance of some, or all, of your first Universal Credit payment.
The advanced payment works like a loan and you’ll pay it back each month from your Universal Credit payment.
You can apply through your work coach at the jobcentre. You will need to tell them why you need an advanced payment, show ID and bring along your bank details.
The work coach should be able to tell you that day whether you’re eligible for an advanced payment.
Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA)
An Alternative Payment Arrangement just means getting paid in a different way.
This could mean that your housing payment goes straight to your landlord. It could also mean that you and your partner get separate payments or you get paid more than once a month.
If you believe that this would suit you better, speak to your work coach about how to apply.
A budgeting advance helps with emergency costs that you didn’t budget for. This could be your heater breaking in your house or last minute costs to prepare to start a job.
A budgeting advance works like a loan, which you will pay back later through future payments. If you stop claiming Universal Credit, you will still need to pay this money back a different way.
Amounts of budgeting advances available are:
- £100-348 if you are single
- £100-464 for you and your partner
- £100-812 if you have children in your care
You may be eligible for a budgeting advance if:
- You have paid off all older budgeting advance loans you applied for
- You’ve been receiving Universal Credit for more than six months
You earned below £2,600 (or if you’re in a couple less than £3,600) in the last 6 months
- You have less than £1,000 in savings
If you feel like you need a budgeting advance you can apply with your work coach at your local jobcentre.
Local council financial help
If you’re struggling with your housing costs, you can apply to your local council for help with this.
You may be able to get a council tax reduction (or rate reduction if you live in Northern Ireland).
If you’re still struggling, there are other benefits to help. New-style Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA) or new-style Employment Support Allowance (ESA) might help.
Visit your work coach at your local jobcentre to see if you’re eligible and to apply.
More information is available on the government’s website:
If you are receiving Universal Credit but can't apply for new-style JSA or ESA, there are other options. The government have a helpful list of external benefits you can consider: