IF you're on Universal Credit and worried about making ends meet in January after the Christmas pinch, there are ways to get up to £1,116 in extra help.
Following the cut to the £20 a week uplift that was a lifeline to families during Covid up until October, many claimants were left struggling to even afford Christmas presents this year.
But if you're struggling to pay your way following one of the most expensive times of the year, you could apply for extra help in the new year.
There are three ways you can get a boost if you're struggling for money – we explain all you need to know:
Budgeting advance – up to £812
Those struggling to afford the basics and pay their bills can apply for a budgeting advance, which can be used to pay for emergency household costs.
This could include buying a new cooker, funeral costs, help getting a job or staying in work.
It is a loan though – so keep in mind that you will need to repay it.
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It's an idea applying if you have sudden expenses to pay and need cash quick.
If you're single, you can get up to £348 – but if you are a couple with no kids, you can get up to £464.
While families can get up to £812 – and the lowest amount anyone can get it £100.
To be eligible for the help, you must have:
- Been getting Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or State Pension Credit for six months or more, unless you need the money to help you start a new job or keep an existing job
- Earned less than £2,600 (£3,600 jointly for couples) in the past six months
- Paid off any previous budgeting advances
How much you can get varies – whether you can pay it back and if you have savings of over £1,000 is taken into account.
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.
We've rounded up a full list of costs that can be covered under a budgeting advance.
You have to pay it back in the first 12 months of getting it.
If you applied for Universal Credit recently but you're in need of cash during the five week wait it usually takes to get your first instalment, you can get an advance payment.
During this period while you're waiting, any existing benefits you receive will stop – meaning that money could be tight, especially if you're feeling the post-Christmas crunch.
To help you get by, you can borrow up to 100% of your estimated cash under an advanced payment, but you can also ask for less.
You'll get the cash in three working days – just in time for the new year to get going.
You'll need to explain why you need the advance, verify your identity (at your first Jobcentre Plus interview) and provide bank details for the advance.
It's a loan though, which means you have to pay it back – you'll be expected to pay it back in the first 24 months of getting the help.
Wondering how you'll pay it back? The Department for Work and Pensions will deduct a certain amount from your monthly payment every month.
Emergency loan – up to £1,116
You can apply for an emergency loan if you're struggling – and you can get up to £1,116.
As it is a loan, you will have to pay the money back and the repayments will come out of your future Universal Credit instalments.
Again, the amount you could get varies depending on your circumstances.
If you have children you will also get up to £282.50 for your first child and £237.08 for any other qualifying children.
James Andrews, senior personal finance editor at Money.co,uk said this theoretically adds up to a total of £1,116.16.
You could get more or less than this depending on your age, whether you live with a partner, have children or need help with housing costs.
But you won't be allowed to borrow an amount that would take more than two years for you to pay back.
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