Universal Credit: How to apply for emergency loan over the festive season

Universal Credit made 'more generous' by Chancellor says expert

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Universal Credit is paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to nearly six million people who are either out of work or on a low income. Anyone struggling to make ends meet is being reminded that they can apply for a loan or advance to tide them over.

It’s been a tough year for many Britons as the COVID-19 pandemic left many unemployed and struggling to make ends meet against a backdrop of rising living costs.

To make matters worse thousands are behind on their rent payments according to homeless charity Crisis.

Campaigners are calling on the Government to do more to help households who are struggling to pay their bills or put food on the table.

However, people who are claiming Universal Credit for the first time may not know that there is help available in the form of a Universal Credit advance or budgeting loan from the DWP..

Who can apply for a Budgeting Advance from DWP?

  • People in receipt of Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or State Pension Credit.
  • Applicants who have earned less than £2,600 (£3,600 jointly for couples) in the past six months
  • Britons who have paid off any previous Budgeting Advances
  • A change to the rules means that claimants now have 24 months to repay the loan, instead of the previous 12
  • This could make getting a loan much more manageable for lots of Britons.

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The smallest amount people can borrow is £100 but they could get up to £800 depending on their circumstances.

Borrowed money will need to be paid back over two years and deductions will be taken automatically from monthly benefit payments.

Benefit claimants can often get financial help with other things too.

These added benfits can often save those on a low income hundreds or thousands of pounds. 

What can Universal Credit claimants get for free?

  • Free prescriptions for people with zero income or those on a low income
  • Free dental treatment
  • Eye tests and discounted glasses
  • Free school transport
  • Free school meals
  • Discounted childcare costs
  • £150 towards school uniforms – dependent on the local authority
  • Reduced council tax bills
  • Capped water bills
  • Half price bus or rail fares
  • Free or discounted gym membership
  • Help with new job costs
  • £140 off fuel bills and £25 in Cold Weather Payments
  • Free or cheap broadband from TalkTalk, Virgin Media and BT
  • £1,200 free cash on top of savings as part of the Government’s Help to Save scheme
  • Food vouchers for kids as part of the Healthy Start scheme
  • Maternity grant up to £1,000
  • Disabled Facilities Grant (up to £30,000) to make changes to a home
  • Homeowners can apply for up to £10,000 to pay for a boiler or double glazing as part of the Green Homes Scheme.

What is happening where you live? Find out by adding your postcode or visit InYourArea

The easiest way to apply for a loan is online through one’s job coach or adviser.

Claimants on Universal Credit can leave a note in their journal.

However, people can also call the helpline on 0800 328 5644.

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