How to get extra cash if you’re on Universal Credit or benefits

UNIVERSAL Credit claimants could be entitled to extra cash to help with bills and expenses.

Hard-up families are set to see the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit withdrawn in just over a week, so many will scramble to cover costs.

 If you're on benefits and struggling financial, there are plenty of ways you can get some extra cash


If you’re on benefits and struggling financial, there are plenty of ways you can get some extra cashCredit: Alamy

It means many households will see their income cut by over £1,000 a year.

The imminent end of furlough also brings uncertainty for many, so being aware of extra ways to grab cash will help hundreds of families.

Helpful grants and schemes are out there, so we round up each of the ones you need to know about.

Budgeting Advance

If you’re on Universal Credit, you can apply for a Budgeting Advance to help with unexpected costs.

That can cover the need to replace white goods, or when you are starting a new job, or coving funeral costs.

The smallest amount you can borrow is £100, and you can get up to £384 if you’re single, £464 if you’re part of a couple, or £812 if you have children.

The amount you get depends on how much you have in savings and your ability to pay the loan back.

You can only get this loan if you’ve been on Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or State Pension Credit for six months or more.

If you’ve earned more than £2,600 (or £3,600 combined for couples) in the last six months, or you haven’t paid off a previous Budget Advance loan, you won’t be able to apply.

You can apply for an advance payment in your online account on the government’s website, or through your Jobcentre Plus work coach.

Winter fuel payments

You could get up to £300 off your fuel payments during the coldest months of the year with the annual tax-free benefit that’s available.

Eligible pensioners can receive annual one-off winter fuel payments from the government of between £100 and £300.

You’re eligible for the money if you were born on or before October 5, 1954 or you lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of September 21 to 27, 2020 – called the “qualifying week”.

The winter fuel payments are made automatically for most people, usually in November or December, and you’ll be sent a letter telling you how much you’ll get and when exactly you can expect it.

The deadline to apply for this year has already passed as it was set for March 31, but you can apply for next years so long as you do so by March 31 2022.

Cold weather payments

Low income households can get £25 a week to help with energy bills during the winter thanks to the cold weather payment scheme too.

You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is zero degrees celsius or below over the space of a week.

You must receive pension credit, income support, jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, or Universal Credit to be eligible.

Payments should automatically be made into your bank or building society account within 14 days of the cold spell being over, so you don’t need to apply.

You’ll be able to check if your area is due a payment when next year’s scheme starts on November 1 this year so we’ll have more details on the scheme then and you’ll be able to check if your postcode qualifies.

Warm home discount scheme

The warm home discount scheme means you can a £140 payment that goes toward your heating costs.

It’s not paid to you, instead it’s a one-off discount on your bill for the period between September and March.

Anyone on a low income struggling with electricity costs can apply for the help now, with at least six different providers having already opened applications this year.

If you receive the guarantee credit element of pension credit, then you are in the “core group” that is eligible for the scheme, so long as your supplier provides it.

You’ll receive a letter between October and December telling you how to get the discount if you qualify.

But if you don’t meet the “core group” criteria, you may still be eligible for this benefit and can use the suppliers’ open applications to claim.

You’ll be eligible if you are on a low income or certain means-tested benefits for this too.

Charity Grants

Charities often help those need, and you may be eligible for a charitable grant to support you.

These grants are given by charitable funds, and do not have to be paid back unlike the loans.

Usually, charitable funds are set up to help people like those who are ill or have a criminal record for example.

You can use the Turn2us online grant search to find out what grants you could be eligible for based on circumstance.

Free Boilers and Loft Insulation

Energy companies will upgrade boilers and install insulation for those on certain benefits.

In some cases you could get up to £10,000 worth of work done to improve your home.

You don’t always have to be a customer to take advantage of the deal either.

E.on, EDF and Npower all offer to install insulation or boilers either for free or at a drastically reduced price.

You usually need to own your home in order to take advantage of this offer though.

Home Improvement Grant

You may be able to get cash to help with repairs, improvements, or adaptions around your home – provided you are a homeowner or private tenant.

It’s down to your local authority whether you’ll be able to claim, but grants are usually paid to people who are older, disabled, or on a low income.

You usually have to be a private tenant or homeowner to apply for such grants.

To make a claim you should contact your local authority, or find out more from your local Home Improvement Agency.

Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI)

If you’re a homeowner and claiming certain benefits, you may be able to get help towards interest payments on your mortgage, or loans taken out for home improvements.

Known as Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI), it’s paid as a loan which you’ll need to repay with interest when you sell or transfer ownership of your home.

This loan cannot be used to repay the amount you borrowed or for missed mortgage payments.

Those claiming Universal Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, and Pension Credit can apply.

To apply, you should contact your benefit provider.

Council Tax Rebate

Many homes are placed in the wrong tax band, and you could potentially be owed thousands if you’ve been overpaying.

Difficulties with valuing homes when the council tax system was introduced mean that many homes were placed in the wrong tax band.

But, you can check the value of your house and ask your council to reassess your property.

It’s really easy to find out if you’re overpaying on council tax, and how to get a rebate.

Flexible Support Fund (FSF)

The Flexible Support Fund (FSF) is designed to help you back into work by covering the costs of getting a job.

The money can be used to cover the costs of training for a job, travel to interviews, childcare, work tools, uniforms, and more.

If you feel that you may be able to get help from the FSF, then you should contact your local Jobcentre or your work coach through your Universal Credit journal.

Before issuing the cash, advisers will need to see evidence that you really can’t pay for the items yourself.

You will also need to tell them specifically what you will be spending the cash on.

There no set maximum amount that can be awarded and it will vary from case to case.

Once you find a job, you’ll have 14 days to provide the job centre with receipts for any goods and services that you paid for using the grant.

To find out more, contact your local job centre or speak to your nearest Citizens Advice Bureaux.

Sure Start Maternity Grant

Expecting parents can get a £500 one-off payment for childcare costs through the Sure Start Maternity Grant.

You can only qualify for the grant if you are expecting your first child and you or your partner are claiming certain benefits.

You can claim from 11 weeks before the week your baby is due, and up to six months after the baby is born.

If you’re becoming responsible for a child, such as through adoption, you must claim within six months of this happening.

To apply, you have to fill in a form which needs to be signed by a health professional, such as a nurse or doctor.

You can find out more about the Sure Start Maternity Grant and how to claim on the GOV.UK website.

Disabled Facilities Grant

If you or somebody you live with is disabled, you may also be able to get a Disabled Facilities Grant.

The purpose of this grant is to pay for work to help a disabled person in their daily life.

Installing ramps, stair lifts, or specialist bathroom facilities are just some of the things the grant covers.

You can only apply for work that is necessary for your needs and reasonable for your home, and you’ll be paid the money to cover costs upon completion when you can provide an invoice or receipt of the work done.

You can apply by contacting your local authority, or speak to your nearest Citizens Advice Bureaux.

School Uniform Grant

Parents struggling with the cost of school uniforms could get up to £150 to help cover costs.

The government has an online service where you can check if your local council will help.

But many parents face a postcode lottery as the amount you can claim will vary between locations, with some councils not offering anything at all.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that as the end of September approaches many of the schemes are closing for the year, and you won’t be able to apply again until next summer before the school term restarts.

Boris Johnson doubles down on vow to slash Universal Credit by £20 a week for millions of families next month

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