Extra Help

Need extra financial help?

When you get Universal Credit you may be able to access more financial help. Click here to find out what extra help is available.

Need extra financial help

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 on Universal Credit and previously Income Support or Income Related Employment and Support Allowance or Income Based Jobseekers Allowance.
  • 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.
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 you’ll be getting due to the increase.

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.
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.
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.
Free prescriptions and health care costs 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 presciptions 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.
Free school meals 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.
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).
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. 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 map. (click here) .
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
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.
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.
The Test and Trace Support payment of £500 is for low-income workers in England and Wales* who are having to self-isolate and who have lost income because they are unable to work from home.

Who can get this?
You:
1.    Must have tested positive for Covid-19 on or after 28th September 2020 or received a notification from NHS Test and Trace on or after 28th September 2020 asking you to self-isolate.
2.    Must be employed or self-employed.
3.    Must be unable to work from home (checks will be undertaken).
4.    Will lose income as a result.
5.    Must be currently receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Income-Related Employment Support Allowance, Pension Credit or Housing Benefit, OR at the Local Authority's discretion, not be getting one of these benefits but on a low income.

How do I apply?
You apply to your Local Authority, normally online, providing the following evidence:
1. A notification from NHS Test and Trace asking you to self-isolate (this will include a Unique ID number); and 2. A bank statement; and
3. Proof of employment, or
if you are self-employed, evidence of self-assessment returns, trading income and proof that your business delivers services which cannot be undertaken without social contact.

  Does this payment affect my benefits?
No, it will be totally disregarded as income for benefit purposes, but it is taxable.

What if I am asked to self isolate a second time? Can I get another payment?
Yes, a claim can be made for each period of self-isolation.

*NOTE: In Wales this is called the Self isolation Support Scheme but works in very much the same way. See Scottish Self Isolation Support Payment for the Scottish scheme.
The Self Isolation Support Payment scheme pays a £500 Grant to workers on a low income who have lost income as a result of having to self-isolate.

Who can get this payment?
You:
1. Must have been told to self-isolate through the Test and Protect Programme, or be caring for a child or adult who has been told to self-isolate.
2. Must be unable to work from home. 
3. Must be getting Universal Credit or Income Support or Income Based JSA or Income Related ESA or Pension Credit or Council Tax Reduction, 
or earning the Real Living Wage or less, 
or have caring responsibilities for someone age over 16 who has been asked to self-isolate,
or be in financial hardship: this is at the Local Authority's discretion. 

How do I apply?
You apply to your Local Authority within 28 days of being told to self-isolate. You can apply as soon as you have been told to self-isolate but you may find the Local Authority contacts you to find out if you need financial support.

You will need to provide the following evidence:
1. A bank statement.
2. Proof of low income if you're not getting one of the benefits listed above.
3. Proof of employment.
or, if self-employed, evidence of self-assessment returns, trading income and proof that your business delivers services which cannot be undertaken without social contact or cannot be undertaken because of childcare or caring responsibilities.
4. A declaration that you will experience reduced earnings during your period of self-isolation.
If it is not you but someone you have caring resposibilities for, who has been told to self-isolate:
Confirmation that you are the primary carer of an adult who needs to self-isolate, that you meet all the qualifying criteria and that you will experience a loss in earnings as a result of caring for the adult or Confirmation that you are the parent or primary carer of a child required to self-isolate, that you meet all the qualifying criteria and that you will experience a loss in earnings as a result of staying home to care for the child.

What if I am told to seld-isolate a second time? Can I get another payment?
Yes, as long as the periods don't overlap.

WARNING: There are many scams…..people trying to get you to tell them your bank account details. If you receive a call from someone saying they work for the DWP and asking for your bank account details, ask the caller to post a specific form of words into your Universal Credit journal so you can be sure it’s them.

The DWP regularly produce guidance or introduce new measures that may change the information on these pages. Please check back regularly for updates on the arrangements the DWP is making to support those who are affected by Coronavirus.