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Budgeting advances under universal credit

A budgeting advance could help if you claim universal credit and need help with emergency or one-off essential expenses.

What is a budgeting advance

A budgeting advance is an interest-free loan to help with one-off or unforeseen expenses.

You repay it through deductions from your monthly universal credit payments.

A budgeting advance can help pay for things like:

  • household items such as cookers, fridges or beds
  • rent in advance or removal costs if moving home
  • repairs or security improvements to your home

If you are struggling to pay rent or buy food while you are waiting for your first universal credit payment you won't qualify for a budgeting advance. You can apply for a short-term advance instead.

Who can get a budgeting advance

You must be claiming universal credit to apply for a budgeting advance.

You must have been receiving any of the following benefits for at least 6 months without a break to apply:

  • universal credit
  • income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • income support
  • pension credit

You must also show that:

  • your earned income for the previous 6 months is below £2,600 if you're single or £3,600 if you're a couple
  • you can afford to repay the budgeting advance (taking into account any other debts you have)

You must repay any previous budgeting advance in full before you can get another one.

How to get a budgeting advance

Contact your work coach at Jobcentre Plus to apply.

The amount you can borrow

The amount you can get depends on what you need it for and whether you have children.

The minimum budgeting advance is £100. 

The maximum budgeting advance is:

  • £348 if you're single and have no dependent children
  • £464 if you're part of a couple and have no dependent children
  • £812 if you have dependent children

Repaying a budgeting advance 

You must usually repay a budgeting advance within 12 months. You may be allowed to repay it over 18 months in exceptional circumstances.

Repayments are usually deducted in instalments directly from your monthly universal credit payment. Jobcentre Plus must confirm the deductions in writing. 

Other sources of financial help

You can't appeal if Jobcentre Plus decides you are not entitled to a budgeting advance.

If you get universal credit housing costs and need further help with rent payments, rent in advance or a deposit for a new property you can apply for a discretionary housing payment.

There may also be other forms of emergency financial help available, depending on where you live.

Last updated 27 Apr 2017 | © Shelter

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