HARD-UP benefits claimants could get a BOOST of cash to help when they’re struggling to pay off the bills – and it’s worth up to £812.
The cash is known as a Budgeting Advance – but you don’t get it completely free of charge – you do have to pay it back.
You have to sign into your Universal Credit account to claim the extra money[/caption]
Benefits, such as Universal Credit, are designed to help with living costs if you’re on a low income, out of work or unable to work.
But sometimes, the welfare system can leave you short.
Particularly for UC claimants, an up-to-£812 that they might be entitled to can be another lifeline.
The cash boost is designed to help people pay for unexpected payments, say a vital home appliance breaks down, or you need to cover funeral costs.
Read more on Universal Credit
As the money is a loan though, anyone taking up the help will have to pay it back.
That’s done a bit at a time from your future Universal Credit payments, or by other means if you no longer get Universal Credit.
For example, it might be taken from your wages or other benefit you may be getting.
We explain everything you need to know about the cash, how you can get it, and when you have to pay it back.
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What is the one-off payment?
The one-off £812 Budgeting Advance and can be taken out on top of your usual monthly payments.
It is designed to help you with any emergency payments that you aren’t able to cover with your usual Universal Credit cheques.
The money can be used to pay for any unexpected bills or unscheduled payment hikes, or even to replace whitegoods such as a fridge if yours breaks.
You may also be entitled to the cash to pay for goods or training related to getting a job or in order to stay in work.
How do I apply for Universal Credit?
HERE’S all you need to know about applying for Universal Credit.
You’ll need to apply to the new welfare system via the gov.uk website, starting by setting up an online account.
To make an account, you’ll need an email address and a phone number.
After that, you’ll need to answer a set of questions about your current circumstances, known as your “to do list”.
These include things like when you last received payment for a job, what your household income is and how many people depend on you financially.
If you’ve lost your job, Citizens Advice recommends that you don’t apply until you’ve received your final wages or any final holiday pay.
This is because any money you receive after you’ve applied for Universal Credit will count as income and mean that you’re entitled to less in your first payment.
You will then need to confirm your identity online.
In certain circumstances, you’ll be able to apply over the phone, such as those who don’t have regular access to the internet, are visually impaired, or have a physical condition that stops you from using a computer or smartphone.
To do this, you will need to contact the Universal Credit helpline to ask if you can apply by phone or arrange a home visit.
In this case, someone can call them on your behalf if you can’t do it yourself.
Who is eligible to make a claim?
There is a certain eligibility criteria that you have to meet to be able to make a claim.
This must be the case to claim the extra money, unless you need it to help start in a new job or to stay in work.
You must have earned less than £2,600 in the last six months, or less than £3,600 between you if you’re in a couple.
Plus you have to have paid off any previous versions of the Budgeting Advance in order to be eligible for a new amount of cash.
How much can I get?
How much you can get depends on whether you can pay the loan back and whether you have any savings over £1,000.
Your first £1,000 of savings will be ignored, but the loan amount you are offered will be reduced by £1 for every £1 you have over that first £1,000.
It also depends on your circumstances, such as how may children you have.
- The lowest amount you can get is £100.
- The full maximum you can get is £812, but that’s only if you are a couple with children.
- If you are a couple with no children then it’s a maximum of £464.
- The most you can get is £348 if you’re single with no children.
How do I claim the payment?
To claim the payment, you’ll need to sign into your Universal Credit account online and write to your workcoach to ask for one in your journal.
Your workcoach will then be able to let you know if you qualify for the help and if so, how much you’re entitled to.
You can also give the Universal Credit helpline a ring on 0800 328 5644 to be talked through the process and apply.
The phone lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, and you’ll normally get a decision on the same day.
Before receiving the loan, you’ll be assessed on your ability to pay it back. To do this, the DWP will take a look at any other outstanding debts you have.
People making an advance application are usually told of the outcome on the same day.
Do I have to pay it back?
As the payment is a loan, you will need to pay it back. This must be done within 12 months of receiving it.
The repayments are automatically deducted from your Universal Credit payments from the first month after you took out the loan.
You can work out how much will be deducted from your payment every month by dividing the full cost of the loan by 12.
So if you borrowed the full £812 you will see roughly £68 taken off your Universal Credit payment every month.
If you stop getting Universal Credit, you’ll need to arrange an alternative way of paying it back.
If you move from Universal Credit to another benefit though, the repayments will continue but from this new method of income instead, and it won’t end until the advance is fully paid off.
According to Citizen’s Advice, the rules on childcare under Universal Credit are unfair and makes it harder for Brits to find work.
The system isn’t without its flaws, as millions have been locked out of their Universal Credit journals before due to a mass internet outage.
Plus there are six things you’ll want to be aware of that could have your benefits stopped – we explain how long that cut-off could last for as well.
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