Universal Credit claimants could get one of seven payments boosts - full list

Universal Credit claimants could get a top-up on their payments -Credit:Jack Taylor/Getty Images
Universal Credit claimants could get a top-up on their payments -Credit:Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Claimants of Universal Credit could be in line for one of seven payment boosts

Amidst the ongoing cost of living crisis, which has seen a surge in prices across various sectors, those on benefits are facing significant financial strain. The increased costs make it harder to afford essentials like food, heating, and fuel.

Nevertheless, there is potential relief through extra support provided by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The government department encourages those struggling financially to seek out advice and assistance.

Read more: DWP boost for some working families on Universal Credit of £20,872 this year

The guidance from the DWP reads: "If you're in financial difficulties, you can get help and advice from the Government, local councils and other organisations."

Here's a look at some of the ways that individuals on Universal Credit might access additional funds to ease their financial burdens.

Advance payments

One option for new claimants who are waiting for their first Universal Credit payment, which can take around five weeks, is to request an advance payment. This can help cover immediate expenses such as rent or groceries but must be repaid through future Universal Credit instalments.

If you're in need of an advance on your Universal Credit, you can apply by speaking to your Jobcentre Plus work coach, through your online account or by calling the Universal Credit helpline at 0800 328 5644.

Hardship payments are available if your benefits have been reduced or stopped due to a sanction. According to Turn2Us, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) calculates your hardship payment based on 60% of the amount you lose in benefits each day, multiplied by the number of days the sanction lasts.

To qualify for this payment, you must be unable to cover immediate essential costs such as rent, heating, and food. You may also need to demonstrate that you've sought alternative income sources, such as through charities.

Hardship payments

Claimants must reapply for a new hardship payment each Universal Credit assessment period. Remember, Hardship Payments must be repaid in instalments from future benefits.

Budgeting Advance

A Budgeting Advance of up to £812 may be available to Universal Credit claimants. This can help with emergency household needs or job-related costs - including clothing or equipment.

This is essentially a loan that you repay through your regular Universal Credit payments. The minimum amount you can borrow is £100.

You can receive up to £348 if you're single, £464 if you're part of a couple, or £812 if you have children. To be eligible, you also need to have earned less than £2,600 (£3,600 together for couples) in the past six months and must have paid off any previous Budgeting Loans you received.

Apply through your Universal Credit account, at the nearest job centre or via the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.

Other state benefits

There may be more than just Universal Credit available to you. For example, if you want to claim a benefit without your savings, your partner's savings or their income being taken into account, you can apply for either new-style Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) or new-style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

With new-style ESA, your Universal Credit payment is reduced by the amount you get in ESA so you won't actually end up with any more money. But ESA is paid more regularly (every two weeks) and gives different National Insurance credits.

Those on Universal Credit get Class 3 NI credits, while those on ESA get Class 1 NI credits which count as a contribution to many more different types of benefits including Maternity Allowance, Bereavement Support Payment and Additional State Pension.

And if you have a health condition or disability, you could receive Personal Independence Payment (PIP) on top of your Universal Credit benefit.

Discretionary Housing Payments

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) offer financial assistance to help with rent or housing costs. If you're currently claiming either Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and need additional funds to maintain your accommodation, you can apply for a DHP.

A discretionary housing payment can assist with covering a rent shortfall, rent deposits, or the rent you have to pay in advance if you relocate to a new address. Applications must be made through your local authority.

Funeral Expenses Payment

Universal Credit claimants can access a Funeral Expenses Payment, provided they are the partner, close relative or close friend of the deceased; the parent of a baby stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy; or the parent or person responsible for a deceased child who was under 16 (or under 20 and in approved education or training).

This payment is also accessible to those on other benefits including Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, the disability or severe disability element of Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit.

The amount given is not fixed. The payment can cover expenses such as burial or cremation fees, some of the costs of moving the body or transporting the coffin and bearers to the service, one return journey for you to attend the funeral, and up to £1000 for related expenses such as the funeral director's fees, the coffin, cars or flowers.

Legal costs

If you're a recipient of Universal Credit, you may be eligible for assistance with costs related to prison visits, court or tribunal usage, and legal aid.