Universal Credit: Britons could be entitled to extra financial help – how to apply

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Additional help is available for people who are finding it difficult to pay for food and bills who are claiming Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.

Hardship payments are only for people whose benefits have been sanctioned.

The scheme is to help people who have their benefits stopped or reduced while their case is looked into.

If they would usually get Universal Credit, then they can apply for a hardship payment rate of 60 percent per day of what they would usually be paid to tie them over.

However, it’s important to be aware that this is a loan that will need to be paid back.

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For people who haven’t had their benefits stopped, there may be other ways to get help with living costs.

People may not have enough to get by while they wait for their first payment – in these circumstances they can ask for an advance payment.

The most they will get as an advance is the amount of their first estimated payment.

People will usually find out the same day they apply and will have up to 24 months to pay it back, rather than in one go.

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As a general rule of thumb if an individual’s first estimated payment is £344 and they request £344 as an advance, they’ll pay back £14.33 a month for a year.

Britons claiming for the first time may be unaware that they can ask for an advance to help them cover everyday living expenses until their claim is finalised.

Nearly six million people are currently claiming Universal Credit – almost double the amount of people 18 months ago at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

People can apply online at Gov.uk or through a Jobcentre Plus work coach.

Families might also be able to get extra financial help by contacting their local council.

Just this month the Government announced that it was launching a £500million support plan to help struggling families survive the winter.

The new Household Support Fund has been introduced to help vulnerable people pay for food, clothing and utilities.

The fund will be given on a discretionary basis to those in need – so they’ll need to let their local council know if they are struggling.

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Who is eligible for Universal Credit?
Anyone who is on a low income or unemployed might qualify for Universal Credit, which replaced other working age benefits in 2013.

Exactly how much Universal Credit people will receive will depend on their circumstances, including whether they work, how much they earn and if they have children.

The number of children someone has does not affect their eligibility for Universal Credit, but it may affect how much they’ll get.

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