If you’re moving to UC and money is tight, there are schemes in place to help you avoid getting into difficulty. You’ll find a full list in our Universal Credit Guide but here are three of the most useful.
Advance Payments could help if you can prove you will be in hardship while waiting for your first UC payment. You should ask for this as early as possible, preferably at your first UC interview once your online application has gone through, otherwise by phone.
You should prepare a budget to show what your outgoings will be and how not having an income will threaten your and your family’s health, like not being able to heat your home or eat. It is an advance so is a loan, and usually repayable over three months. Citizens Advice has more information here.
A Budgeting Advance may be available. Your claim has to have been accepted already. You should be able to request a ‘short-term advance’ while waiting for your first payment to help avoid getting into debt or arrears with bills, although it’s not usually for rent. An advance is a loan, paid back through deductions from your UC payments, over a period of time agreed with Jobcentre Plus. To apply, contact your local Jobcentre Plus, although Citizens Advice recommends speaking to them first. See Shelter’s advice page.
The Social Fund incorporates a number of different types of support for people on low incomes and includes Budgeting Loans but also help with bills in cold weather and funeral expenses. It is accessed through Jobcentre Plus and different rules apply, so you’ll need to ask if any of the Social Fund might be able to help you. If you’re turned down, you might want to seek a second opinion from an advice agency. Read more on the social fund here.