Extra help if you claim universal credit

With universal credit you can get help with things like rent, childcare and medical costs.

Most schemes are open to everyone who claims.

Some depend on how much you earn and if you have children.

Help with rent and bills

£650 cost of living payment

The £650 will be paid in 2 instalments in 2022.

The first instalment will be paid from July 14. You must have been receiving or entitled to universal credit on any day between 26 April 2022 to 25 May 2022 to get it.

The second instalment will be paid in the autumn. The government will announce how to qualify for it later in the year.

The payments are tax free and should not affect your benefits or the benefit cap.

Discretionary housing payment

You can ask your council for a discretionary housing payment if your benefits do not cover your rent.

Household support fund

The government has given councils extra money to help people with things like utility bills and food.

Contact your council to apply.

Advance and hardship payments

You can get universal credit advance to help with expenses if you're waiting for your first universal credit payment.

A budgeting advance can help with unexpected household costs and costs that go with finding a job or staying in work.

A hardship payment can help pay for essentials if you've been sanctioned.

Both have to be paid back from your universal credit.

Discounts and money for energy

There are schemes to help pay energy bills for people who claim benefits or have low incomes, including:

  • cheaper tariffs

  • the warm home discount

  • winter fuel payments

  • cold weather payments

Cheaper internet deals

You may be able to get a cheaper broadband or phone package.

Help with council tax

You can sometimes get a reduction to lower your council tax bill. This is sometimes called council tax support.

Find out if you can pay less council tax.

Help with childcare costs

Universal credit can cover up to 85% of your childcare costs.

The maximum monthly help you can get is:

  • £646.35 for one child

  • £1,108.04 for 2 or more children

You will have to pay for your childcare first and then claim the money back through universal credit.

You have to be in paid employment but there is no minimum number of hours you have to work.

The charity Working Families has more information about getting help with childcare costs. You can also read the GOV.UK guide on universal credit for childcare.

Free school meals for children

You can get this if your income is less than £7,400 a year after tax, excluding any benefits you get.

Healthy Start vouchers

Healthy Start vouchers allow you to get fruit, vegetables and milk (including formula milk) for free.

You can get up to £6.20 a week.

You can get this if you claim universal credit and you have a child under 4 or are at least 10 weeks pregnant.

Maternity grant

A maternity grant gives you £500 if you’re expecting your first child.

You will not get it if you already have children, unless you’re pregnant and expecting twins.

You can claim up to 11 weeks before your due date or up to 6 months after your baby is born.

Help with healthcare

You can get free prescriptions and help with eye tests and dental treatment if your earnings in your last assessment period were:

  • less than £435 - if you do not have a child or are expected to look for work

  • less than £935 - if you have a dependent child or are not expected to look for work because of disability or ill health

Take proof that you claim universal credit and how much you earned in your last assessment period when you get your treatment. 

Find out more about help with healthcare costs from the NHS website.

Help with work related costs

You can apply for money from the Flexible Support Fund if you are struggling to pay for things like:

  • a train or bus ticket to get to a job interview

  • travelling to work

  • childcare costs

  • work clothes

  • training

Contact your Jobcentre Plus adviser or work coach to apply. You need to say why you need the money. You do not have to pay it back.

Help with legal costs

You can get help with legal costs through legal aid.

You could get free advice or representation in court if you’re at risk of homelessness or eviction.

Last updated: 14 June 2022

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