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End of the UC uplift – what to do in an emergency

For many, the extra £20 was keeping our heads above water. Where can we turn if we just can’t manage?

The £20 uplift to Universal Credit (UC) payments, introduced in April last year as a response to the Covid pandemic, is about to come to an end.

It means that six million of us across the country will see our income from UC cut by more than £1,000 a year. For many of us, the uplift was the only thing keeping our heads above water.

So if we’re worried that it’s going to leave us unable to make ends meet each month, where can we turn?

Emergency help

If we’re just applying for UC, we can apply for an advance. This means we’ll get some cash within five days rather than the standard five-week waiting time.

It’s important to remember though that this is a loan and we’ll have to pay it back from future Universal Credit payments.

For those of us worrying about rent, it may be possible to get an Alternative Payment Arrangement, which means that the money would be sent direct to our landlord. There are also other options, like getting payments more frequently or splitting them between a couple, that might be possible.

And for specific expenses like a broken appliance or the costs of job-hunting, a Budgeting Advance might be worth considering. 

This also needs to be repaid and will come out of our future UC payments – so we need to be really sure we can’t manage without the cash before applying. Even if we stop claiming UC we still have to repay the advance.

Turn2Us is another organisation offering help and support when things get tough. If we’re not online, we can call them on 0808 802 2000.

Council tax savings

It might be possible to get a discount on our council tax by applying for a reduction. Any of us can apply, regardless of whether we rent or own our home, or if we’re working.

Each council runs its own scheme (you can find your council here) but the reduction isn’t available in Northern Ireland, where there is a different scheme in place.

If we’re not sure if we’ll be able to put food on the table then we need to find our local foodbank. The Trussell Trust has information on our nearest one or simply search online for ‘foodbank near me’. If we can’t travel they may be able to arrange a delivery.

We definitely shouldn’t feel ashamed or guilty about going to a foodbank – they want to help us. As one Quids in! reader who has been there says: “They are friendly, non-judgemental and there to help individuals and families in just this position. You can always donate time, money or food once you’re settled.”

And internet cook and Quids in! cover star Lorna Cooper has just added to her popular Facebook page by launching a ‘Helping Hands’ group where we can ask for help or offer support and share tips.

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