TIMES are tight – but millions of households claiming Universal Credit can get help worth up to thousands of pounds for extra costs.
From the £10 Christmas bonus to getting a loan worth £812 to help tide over, you can get extra support as costs soar.
It comes as soaring inflation is causing the cost of essentials and bills to soar, leaving people struggling to pay their way.
Those on Universal Credit behind on bills and wondering how to put food on the table can get extra support, Turn2Us benefits expert Anna Stevenson said.
She’s one of the experts on The Sun’s Squeeze Team panel of experts – here to help you through a cost of living crisis.
If you’re worried about how to make ends meet, are struggling to pay off your debts or don’t know how best to manage your cash, get in touch by emailing [email protected].
Christmas bonus – £10
Christmas is an expensive time of year – and this year will be particularly tough during a cost of living crunch.
That’s why millions on Universal Credit will get a £10 free cash boost to help them pay for the festive period.
Although £10 may be a drop in the ocean compared to runaway energy bills, every little helps.
If you claim Universal Credit, you don’t automatically get it though.
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“Universal Credit on its own is not a qualifying benefit to receive the bonus,” Anna said.
“However, people who do receive Universal Credit in addition to receiving PIP, Carer’s Allowance or New Style ESA may get a bonus.”
You need to be getting it in what’s known as the qualifying week, which is usually the first week of December.
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
- Attendance Allowance
- Carer’s Allowance
- Child Disability Payment
- Constant Attendance Allowance (paid under Industrial Injuries or War Pensions schemes)
- Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance (once the main phase of the benefit is entered after the first 13 weeks of claim)
- Disability Living Allowance
- Incapacity Benefit at the long-term rate
- Industrial Death Benefit (for widows or widowers)
- Mobility Supplement
- Pension Credit – the guarantee element
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- State Pension (including Graduated Retirement Benefit)
- Severe Disablement Allowance (transitionally protected)
- Unemployability Supplement or Allowance (paid under Industrial Injuries or War Pensions schemes)
- War Disablement Pension at State Pension age
- War Widow’s Pension
- Widowed Mother’s Allowance
- Widowed Parent’s Allowance
- Widow’s Pension
“If you are eligible, you are likely to receive this payment before Christmas,” Anna added.
The £10 Christmas bonus is paid automatically so you don’t need to claim.
You’ll get it paid into the same account where you normally receive your benefit payments and it should show up in your statement as “DWP XB” or something similar.
If you think you qualify but you don’t receive a payment automatically, you should contact your local Jobcentre Plus or Pension Centre.
Household Support Fund – up to £300
You don’t necessarily have to be claiming Universal Credit to apply to the Household Support Fund.
But as you may have to provide evidence you are in need of the help, low income households will likely be able to qualify.
Councils have a portion of funding to dish out to residents struggling to pay bills under the cost of living crisis.
Help you can get varies depending on where you live – but you can get up to £300.
Apply to your local council, and get more information on what help you can get- you can find yours using the gov.uk tool checker.
Extra benefits – £1,000s
At least seven million people across the UK are missing out on over £15 billion of unclaimed benefits.
You could be missing out on Pension Credit for example – around one million people could be missing out on £3,300 a year.
Council tax support is the most underclaimed benefit, with almost 2.8million people not claiming when they should.
“You could be entitled to extra payments through Universal Credit or Pension Credit,” Anna told The Sun.
“Top-up payments, especially Pension Credit, are really under-claimed.”
And if you’re REALLY struggling…
If you’re in an emergency situation, you can apply for a loan from the DWP.
But as you have to pay it back, it should only be used if you’re really in need of the cash.
Budgeting advance – £812
You can apply for something known as a Budgeting Advance if you’re struggling to pay the bills.
“It is worthwhile to remember that budgeting advances must be paid back and will be deducted from your benefit payments,” Anna said.
It works like a loan – you have to pay it back to the DWP within 12 months, and it will be taken from your wages or off your future benefit payments.
It’s a one-off payment, worth up to £812, helps to cover any emergency payments, unexpected bills or sudden payment hikes.
It can be used as well to pay for broken household appliances like fridges if they are broken and need replacing.
So if you borrowed the full £812 you will see roughly £68 taken off your Universal Credit payment every month.
There is a certain eligibility criteria that you have to meet to be able to make a claim, and what you can get varies on your situation.
If you’ve just applied for Universal Credit, there’s a big gap between the time you’ve applied until the time you get the payment.
It can take up to five weeks before you are enrolled on the Universal Credit system, and in the meantime any existing benefits you receive will stop altogether too.
That’s a long time to go without any support – so that’s why you can apply for an Advance Payment.
You can borrow 100% of your estimated monthly payment on Universal Credit.
So if you’re entitled to £1,000, you can borrow £1,000.
You can apply for an advance payment in your online account or through your Jobcentre Plus work coach.
Find out more about what Universal Credit is and whether you might be eligible for a claim.
Here’s five mistakes that could see your Universal Credit slashed – or stopped completely.