Extra help if you claim universal credit

You could get extra help with things like rent, council tax, childcare and medical costs.

You have to apply for most extra help.

You do not have to apply for the cost of living payment.

Beware of scams

Scammers pretend to be your energy supplier, the council, DWP or Ofgem.

They might offer you a discount, refund or payment if you give your details.

Do not give personal information or bank details over the phone or internet.

Citizens Advice tells you how to check if something might be a scam.

Help with rent

Universal credit includes a housing element to help with rent.

If you need more help, you can apply for discretionary housing payments from your council.

Contact your council's discretionary housing payments team

What is your location?

Find out more about discretionary housing payments.

Help with council tax

You could get a council tax reduction if you're on universal credit. This is sometimes called council tax support.

Find out about other help with council tax.

Help with energy bills

Find out about extra help with energy bills.

Help with childcare costs

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

The most you can get each month for childcare is:

  • £646 for 1 child

  • £1,108 for 2 children or more

You get your childcare costs back after you have paid them. They are part of your universal credit monthly payment.

If you need help to pay for childcare in advance, ask your jobcentre work coach about the flexible support fund.

You do not have to repay money from this fund.

Find out more about universal credit childcare costs on GOV.UK

Free school meals

Your children can get free school meals if your income after tax is less than £7,400 a year. This figure does not include any UC or other benefits you get.

Healthy Start cards

Healthy Start cards are to help you buy fruit, vegetables, milk and vitamins if your income from employment after tax is less than £408 a month and either:

  • you have a child under the age of 4

  • you're at least 10 weeks' pregnant

Maternity grants

You could get a £500 maternity grant if you’re pregnant with your first child.

If you already have a child under 16, you can get a maternity grant if either:

  • you're expecting twins

  • you have refugee status or humanitarian protection and you have a child from before you arrived in UK

You can claim up to 11 weeks before you are due to give birth or up to 6 months after your baby is born.

You have to apply on a paper form.

Find the form and guidance on GOV.UK

Advances and hardship payments

You can get a universal credit advance while you wait for your first universal credit payment.

A budgeting advance can help with unexpected household costs.

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

Advances and hardship payments have to be paid back through monthly deductions from your universal credit.

Cheaper internet deals

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

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

Contact your jobcentre work coach if you cannot afford things like:

  • training

  • work clothes

  • upfront childcare costs

  • travel to work or a job interview

Your work coach decides if you can get help from the flexible support fund. You may need to show receipts or proof of travel costs.

You do not have to pay this money back.

Free legal advice

You can get help through legal aid.

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

Last updated: 5 October 2022

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