How Universal Credit seekers can get up to £812 as Christmas approaches if they’re really struggling

MILLIONS on Universal Credit can get up to £812 down payments to tide them over this Christmas season – but there’s a catch.

Those on the benefit to can get what is called a budget advance to help pay for emergencies housework costs.

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Those on Universal Credit can get loans to meet emergency costsCredit: Alamy

You might need the silver for a new stove, help finding a job or staying at work or bills.

But money is a ready which needs to be refunded and you should only ask for it if you are really struggling.

Your Universal Credit payments will be reduced in the months following the taking out of the advance and you will have to budget for the deficit.

What is a budget advance?

You can borrow between £100 and £812. What you are entitled to will depend on your situation.

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The maximum you can get if you are single is £348, £464 if you are in a relationship and £812 if you have children.

Your financial situation is also taken into consideration.

If you have savings over £1,000, the advance available to you is reduced by £1 for every £1 you have over £1,000.

The amount you borrow will usually be repaid over 12 months.

If you stop receiving Universal Credit, you will need to agree on another way to repay the money.

The loan is interest for free, so you will repay the exact amount you borrowed.

It’s a better option than borrowing money through a bank loan or credit card, as you will usually have to pay interest on these repayments.

If you opt for a credit card, you should check the interest rates to make sure you’re getting the best OK using comparison sites like Switch Where MoneySuperMarket.

You can request a budget advance to cover items such as:

  • A single item – for example, the replacement of a fridge
  • Work-related expenses – for example, the purchase of a uniform or tools
  • Unforeseen expenses
  • Repairs to your home
  • Travel expenses
  • Maternity costs
  • Funeral expenses
  • Moving costs or rental deposit
  • Essential items, such as clothing

What other emergency help can I get?

Of course, it’s worth checking to see if you can get other emergency expense help without having to pay it back.

It might be worth checking that you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to first by using a benefits calculator.

There is also the Household Support Fundwhich offers financial support to those most in need.

What you get will depend on your advice region, but some households received hundreds of cash, vouchers and other supports.

Councils also have other welfare aids they can distribute. It is worth it contact yours to find out what’s on offer.

In addition, you may be entitled to a charity grant or help through a Food Bank.

If you are concerned about debt, you can always get free, friendly advice from a number of organisations:

Who is eligible for a Budget Advance?

To get a budget advance, you must have Universal Credit as well as a number of other benefits, including:

  • Means-tested jobseeker’s allowance
  • Means-tested employment and support allowance
  • Income support
  • Pension credit

You will also need to have applied for benefits for at least six months, unless it is to cover costs associated with getting or keeping a job, such as travel.

You will also need to have earned less than £2,600 in the six months before you apply, or £3,600 if you live with a partner.

If you have already subscribed to a budget advance and you continue to repay it, you will not be able to obtain a new one.

How can I request a budget advance?

You will need to call to apply.

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The Universal Credit helpline is 0800 328 5644 and it’s free to call from landlines and mobiles.

You can also contact your local Job Center Plus or apply online through your Universal Credit account.

Darcy J. Skinner