Extra Help

Need extra financial help?

When you get Universal Credit you may be able to access more financial help.

Need extra financial help

What is it and who can get one?
Sometimes you’ll face unexpected expenses that you can’t afford.
You can apply for a Budgeting Advance to cover things like:
  • A one-off item - eg replacing a broken fridge
  • Work-related expenses - eg buying uniform or tools
  • Unexpected expenses
  • Repairs to your home
  • Travel expenses
  • Maternity expenses
  • Funeral expenses
  • Moving costs or rent deposit
  • Essential items, like clothes.
Do I have to pay it back?
Yes - it’s an interest free loan, normally paid back over 12 months out of your Universal Credit.

How much can I borrow?
You can borrow from £100 up to:
  • £348 if you're single without children
  • £464 if you're in a couple without children
  • £812 if you have children.
Who can’t get one?
You can’t get one if:
  • You’ve not, for the last 6 months, been on Universal Credit or Income Related Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support or Income Based Jobseekers Allowance or a combination of these benefits.
  • You have earned more than £2,600 in the past 6 months (or for a couple, more than £3,600). This doesn’t apply if you’re wanting a work-related expense.
  • And if you have more than £1,000 savings then your loan will be reduced by however much savings you have over the £1,000.
  • And you can’t get another one if you are still paying off a previous one.
How do I apply?
Apply on your online UC account or if you cannot access this, by ringing the UC helpline: 0800 328 5644.
What is it and who can get one?
You can apply for a Change in Circumstances Advance if you need some money to tide you over:
  • Where there is a delay in you getting your Universal Credit payment, or
  • Where your Universal Credit is about to increase significantly because you’ve had a change in circumstance such as finishing work, becoming a couple or having a baby,
  • But the DWP also have to consider whether there is a serious risk of damage to the health or safety you or any member of their family. And that you have no other sources of support, such as other income, savings, wages etc.
How much can I get?
You’ll get half of the extra Universal Credit your award is expected to increase by getting due to the change in your circumstances.

Do I have to pay it back?
Yes – it’s a loan that is paid back - over 6 months or less.

How do I apply?
Apply on your online UC account, or if you cannot access this, by phoning the UC helpline: 0800 328 5644.
This is a reduction in your Council Tax bill where paying this year’s Council Tax would cause you exceptional hardship.
You have to be already getting some Council Tax Support. (It’s not available in Scotland.)
Apply to your Local Authority's Council Tax department.
Depending on your income and circumstances you can apply for Council Tax Support. This is a reduction in your Council Tax bill. Claim from your Local Authority / council.

It’s also worth checking if you’re entitled to a Council Tax Discount, for example due to being the only adult in the household, or one of the adults is severely mentally impaired, or your home has been adapted for a severely disabled person, or everyone in the house is a student. Talk to your Local Authority / Council if you think this may apply to you.
What is it?
If you get Universal Credit and you need help with work-related expenses to help you get, or keep, your job, you can ask your Work Coach if you would qualify for help from the Flexible Support Fund.

Examples of things this will cover include:
  • Travel costs to attend a work trial, work experience or training for work.
  • Childcare costs when on training or at an interview, or when starting work and unable to make your first childcare payment.
  • Travel costs for training you have to attend
  • Appropriate interview clothing
  • Clothes to start work (not uniform or safety equipment)
  • To remove barriers to start work
How do I apply?

You need to contact your Work Coach, normally through your journal on your online UC claim. If you don’t have access to this phone the UC helpline: 0800 328 5644.

The Work Coach doesn’t have to pay this – they have a limited pot of money so they will need to be convinced that you need this to remove barriers to working or progressing in work.
If you get Universal Credit and you pay rent, then if you’re struggling to pay your rent you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
For example you might:
  • Have a Bedroom Tax deduction, or
  • Have high expenses due to a disability, or
  • Have to pay two sets of rent while you’re in the middle of moving home.
The Local Authority's / council’s DHP budget is limited so you might get turned down. You can’t appeal a refusal but you can ask them to look again.

Apply to your Local Authority's / council’s DHP section, or speak to a Benefits Adviser.

See Discretionary Housing Payment for more information.
Your Local Authority/council can grant your child/children free school meals* if you’re on Universal Credit and, in your last monthly Assessment Period, you earned less than £616.67 (England and Wales).  If it’s higher than this but was previously lower, the DWP can take the average earnings of the last 3 Assessment Periods. See below. In Scotland the threshold is £610.

NOTE: In England and Wales - once your child is eligible, they’ll stay entitled until the end of the level of education they’re in (primary / secondary / further).

England and Wales – how to work out if your child can get free school meals.

1. Did you/your partner earn more than £616.67 (in total) in the monthly Assessment Period immediately before the one when you requested free school meals? 
    No – you are eligible for free school meals.
    Yes – then the Local Authority/council will need to look at earnings over the two preceding monthly Assessment Periods.

2. Did your earned income for the two preceding Monthly Assessment Periods exceed £1,233.34?
    No – you are eligible for free school meals.
    Yes – then the Local Authority/council need to look at earnings over the three preceding monthly Assessment Periods.

3. Did your earned income for the three preceding monthly Assessment Periods exceed £1,850?
    No – you are eligible for free school meals.
    Yes – then you’re not eligible for free school meals.
You can get this help if you’re on Universal Credit and have no earned income. If you work and have earnings you are still entitled to free prescriptions and health care costs if you have earned income in your last Assessment Period of
  • Less than £435 or
  • Less than £925 if you have a child or have been assessed as having a Limited Capability for Work or a Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity
What can I get?
  • Free NHS prescriptions and free dental treatment
  • Free wigs
  • Free fabric supports
  • Free eye tests
  • Vouchers towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses
  • Help with the cost of travel for NHS treatment or referral by a doctor or dentist.
If you live in England or Wales:

You can get help with a funeral payment if you’re on Universal Credit and you are/were:
  • The partner of the deceased when they died, or
  • A close relative or close friend of the deceased, or
  • The parent of a baby stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or
  • The parent or person responsible for a deceased child who was under 16 (or under 20 and in approved education or training)
If you live in Scotland (where it's called a Funeral Support Payment)

The funeral must be being held in the UK, the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland and
You must:
  • Be getting Universal Credit* (certain other benefits also count), and
  • Live in Scotland, and
  • Be arranging a funeral for someone who lived in the UK, and
  • Be claiming within 6 months of the date of their funeral, and
  • Be responsible for the funeral - this means you must
  • Be named on the funeral bill and
  • Be the nearest relation to the person who died (usually a partner, child, parent or sibling).
What are they?

These are vouchers towards the cost of free milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, infant formula, pregnancy vitamins, breastfeeding vitamins and vitamins for children aged 6 months to 5 years old.

Can I get them?

If you are on Universal Credit you can get healthy start vouchers if:
  • In each of the two monthly Assessment Periods before the Assessment Period when you apply, you / your partner earned less than £408, and
  • You have a child under 4 years old or you’re more than 10 weeks into a pregnancy, and
  • You live in England or Wales.
How do I apply?

You need to get an application leaflet (from a health visitor or midwife, or by phoning or by downloading it online from the NHS website (click here). Then you give it to a midwife or health visitor to sign and date it. Then send it to Freepost RRTR-SYAE-JKCR, Healthy Start Issuing Unit, PO Box 1067, Warrington, WA55 1EG

If you live in Scotland you can apply for Best Start Foods. To be eligible you must be either pregnant or responsible for a child under 3 and have earnings under £610 in the previous monthly Assessment Period
Some Local Authorities / councils run local welfare assistance schemes to help people in hardship.
For example you could get vouchers for household goods or food. Ask your Local Authority / council for help.

Speak to a Money Adviser if you are in severe financial hardship and worried about the health and welfare of you or your family.
What are they?

When you claim Universal Credit you have to wait over five weeks for your first payment, because that is the way it is designed.
But you can apply on your UC account or ask your Work Coach, at your new claim interview, for an Advance Payment to tide you over.

How much is it?

You can have up to the full amount of what you’re likely to get (ie unless your circumstances change) in your first Universal Credit payment. BUT remember…

Do I have to pay it back?

Yes – you will normally pay it back over 24 months (or you can pay it back earlier) – it comes straight out of your Universal Credit payment.
So if you were given an advance of £1200, that’s £50 less money every month for two years

See Can I get an Advance Payment? for more information.