CLAIMANTS of Universal Credit could be entitled to a one-off payment of up to £812 to help with emergency costs and bills.
The extra cash is another boost to help with the unexpected but you will have to pay it back in time.
The usual Universal Credit payments you might receive are designed to help if you’re on a low income, out of work or unable to work.
But as sometimes this isn’t enough, the up-to-£812 you might be entitled to can be another lifeline.
We explain everything you need to know about the cash, how you can get it, and how you have to pay it back eventually too.
What is the one-off payment?
The money you might usually receive for Universal Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be extremely useful each time around, but there will be emergency occasions where you need extra.
If you found that monthly costs have become somewhat overwhelming, the introduction of the one-off payment is designed to help.
The scheme is known as a budgeting advance to give you this further aid when necessary.
The cash is designed to help with the cost of things like bills that might arise unexpectedly or sooner than planned.
Or maybe you need to buy a new cooker, cover something unplanned or budgeted like funeral expenses, or need help getting a job or staying in work.
How much can I get?
The lowest amount you can get from the budgeting advance is £100.
The maximum you can get for a budgeting advance is £812, but that’s only if you are a couple with children.
Otherwise then the most you can get is £348 if you’re single with no children or £464 if you are a couple with no children.
How do I claim the payment?
It’s meant to be simple enough to apply for the loan, you just have to sign into your Universal Credit account online, as well as tell your Jobcentre Plus work coach as they will be able to advise you on what to do next.
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.
In any of the scenarios it will be determined if you can pay back the loan in time, so things like any other outstanding debts you might have will be examined as well as how easy it will be for you to pay them back.
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.
If you have savings over £1,000, that will be taken into account too.
There is a certain eligibility criteria that you have to match first as well.
You need to have been getting Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or State Pension Credit for at least six months or more.
This must be the case to claim the advance loan, unless you need the money 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 loan in order to be eligible for a new amount of cash.
Do I have to pay it back?
The advance is a loan so it’ll definitely need to be repaid.
You have to pay it back within the first 12 months of getting it.
But the repayments are taken from your monthly Universal Credit payment that you would normally receive – the DWP will just take this automatically.
It means your Universal Credit payments will be lower until the full sum is paid back though, so you wont get as much as normal until you have finished paying back 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 have to pay another way and if you really can’t afford to repay in exceptional circumstances, it’ll be delayed for up to three months.
If you move from Universal Credit to another benefit though, the repayments will continue to come but from this new method of income instead, and it wont 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.