If you claim universal credit and you're struggling to find the money for a one-off or emergency expense, you may be able to get a budgeting advance to help.
What is a budgeting advance?
A budgeting advance is an interest-free loan to help with one-off or unforeseen expenses.
You may be able to claim a budgeting advance to pay for a one-off expense or an essential item such as:
- a cooker or fridge
- rent in advance on a new home
You can only apply for a budgeting advance if you claim universal credit. You pay it back through deductions from your monthly universal credit payments.
Apply for a short-term advance if you are struggling to cover your living costs and rent while you are waiting for your first universal credit payment.
Budgeting advances replace social fund budgeting loans. These are still available if you are claiming some of the benefits that universal credit replaces.
How to apply for a budgeting advance
Contact your local Jobcentre Plus office to apply for a budgeting advance.
If your application is successful, the money is paid into your bank account.
Who can get a budgeting advance
If you or your partner receive universal credit, you may get a budgeting advance if either of you have been claiming any of these benefits continuously for at least six months:
- universal credit
- income-based jobseeker's allowance
- income-related employment and support allowance
- income support
- pension credit
You must also be able to show that:
- your income for the previous six months is below £2,600 if you are single or £3,600 if you're a couple
- you or your partner aren't still repaying a previous budgeting advance or social fund budgeting loan
- you are able to repay the budgeting advance (taking into account any other debts you have).
How much you can borrow
The amount of budgeting advance you can get depends on what you need it for and whether you are single, a couple or have a child.
The minimum budgeting advance payment is £100. If you have more than £1,000 in savings, the amount you get is reduced.
How a budgeting advance is repaid
You have to repay a budgeting advance within 12 months. You may be able to repay it over 18 months in exceptional circumstances.
Repayments are usually deducted as instalments directly from your universal credit payments.
Jobcentre Plus must tell you in writing how much will be deducted from your benefit payments. It must do this before or at the same time as giving you the budgeting advance.
If you are refused a budgeting advance
You do not have the right to appeal if Jobcentre Plus decides you are not entitled to a budgeting advance.
Get advice if you think Jobcentre Plus has made a mistake by not following the right procedure when processing your application. It is sometimes possible to challenge the decision through the courts in a process known as a judicial review.
Other sources of financial help
Depending on where you live, there may be other forms of emergency financial help on offer too.
Find out more about emergency financial help.
If you need help with your rent payments, you can claim a discretionary housing payment.
Last updated 27 Jul 2016 | © Shelter