Universal Credit consumers who are struggling to pay their bills may be awarded a government lifeline to help them out – but it has a catch.
Although the benefit, among others, is designed to help those in need of financial assistance due to a lack of employment, many may still be left behind with their expenses exceeding their income, especially during the current cost of living crisis.
However, the government has told people they may be eligible to receive a one-time payment of up to £812 in the form of a budget advance, but the sum will have to be repaid in the future.
Read more: Brits warned their Universal Credit could be cut by DWP for six reasons – here’s why
The monetary boost is intended to help Britons in the most unexpected of circumstances which can leave them strapped for cash, for example, if a family member dies and funeral costs need to be covered, or if an essential vehicle needs repairs.
The loan is then repaid in installments directly subsidized by the claimant’s Universal Credit, with those no longer receiving the benefit repaying it with wages or deductions from other benefits. The Mirror reports that you pay no interest on the advance, however.
Here’s everything you need to know about budget advances:
How much can I borrow through a budget advance?
The smallest amount you can borrow is £100 and the maximum is £812 if you have children.
You can go up to:
How much you can get depends on whether you can repay the loan and whether you have savings of over £1,000. The amount you can borrow is reduced by £1 for every £1 you have in savings over the £1,000 threshold.
Who is eligible for a Budget Advance?
You have to meet certain criteria to get a budget advance – so not everyone on Universal Credit will be accepted for one.
To be eligible for financial assistance, you must have received one of the following benefits for six months or more:
- Universal Credit
- Employment and Income Support Benefit
- Income support
- Income-related jobseeker’s allowance
- State pension credit
The only time this won’t apply is if you need the money to help you start a new job or maintain an existing one. You must also have earned less than £2,600 (£3,600 jointly for couples) in the last six months and have repaid all previous budget advances.
How to repay a Budget Advance?
You’ll have to repay your Budget Advance through your future Universal Credit repayments – but as we mentioned above, you won’t pay any additional interest. The first deduction is made on the day you receive your next payment after being accepted for the loan and the full amount must be repaid within 12 months.
If you stop claiming Universal Credit, you will still have to repay your budget advance. Payments will either have to come from your salary, if you are currently working, or from other benefits you may have.
If you don’t make payment arrangements, the DWP can contact your employer to collect what you owe. The DWP may also contact a debt collection agency to collect any outstanding payments – so keep this in mind before applying for a loan.
How can I request a budget advance?
If you are having difficulty and need a budget advance, you will need to apply through your Jobcentre Plus work coach. They should explain how much you can borrow and how much you will have to repay each month.