Getting a Universal Credit budgeting advance
You might be able to get a loan as part of your Universal Credit if you need to cover a specific expense - this is called a 'budgeting advance'.
If you get a budgeting advance, you'll get reduced Universal Credit payments until you've paid off the amount you borrow. This will normally be over 12 months.
You can apply for a budgeting advance to cover things like:
- a one-off item - eg replacing a broken fridge
- work-related expenses - eg buying uniform or tools
- unexpected expenses
- repairs to your home
- travel expenses
- maternity expenses
- funeral expenses
- moving costs or rent deposit
- essential items, like clothes
If you've applied for Universal Credit but haven't had your first payment yet, you need to get an advance payment instead of a budgeting advance.
Check when you’ll get Cost of Living Payments
If you’re eligible, the government will send you a payment of £299 during spring 2024. You’ll get this between 6 and 22 February 2024.
To get the £299 payment you must have been paid Universal Credit for an assessment period ending between 13 November and 12 December 2023.
You’ll still get the payment even if your Universal Credit was paid to your landlord or if you didn’t get paid because of deductions.
If you didn’t get the last payment
The government sent the last Cost of Living Payment of £300 in autumn 2023 - you should have got this by 19 November.
You should have got this payment if you were paid Universal Credit for an assessment period ending between 18 August and 17 September 2023.
If you think you should have received a Cost of Living Payment, you can report a missing payment on GOV.UK.
If you’re still waiting for a decision about your claim
If you started a Universal Credit claim by 18 August and you're waiting for a decision, you can still get the Cost of Living Payment. You won't get it until your claim is successful.
When you can get a budgeting advance
You can get a budgeting advance if you need the money to help you get or stay in work - like train tickets for a job interview. If you need the money for any other reason, you’ll need to have claimed one of these benefits for 6 months or more:
- Universal Credit
- means-tested Jobseeker's Allowance,
- means-tested Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Pension Credit
You'll also need to have earned less than £2,600 in the 6 months before your application. This figure is £3,600 if you live with a partner.
You can't get a budgeting advance if you or your partner is still paying off a previous budgeting advance.
How much you can borrow
The smallest budgeting advance you can get is £100. The maximum depends on your circumstances. You can borrow up to:
- £348 if you're single without children
- £464 if you're in a couple without children
- £812 if you have children
If you have more than £1,000 in capital
Capital includes any savings, and some types of property.
If you have more than £1,000 in capital, the Jobcentre will reduce your budgeting advance by the excess amount.
For example, if you have £1,250 in capital, the Jobcentre will reduce your budgeting advance by £250.
Applying for a budgeting advance
You'll need to apply for your budgeting advance over the phone. To decide if you're eligible, and how much you can get, an adviser will look at:
- whether you can afford to pay the loan back - they'll see if you have any debts and how much you owe to help work this out
- how much you have in savings
You'll normally get a decision on the same day.
Universal Credit helpline
Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 328 5644
You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.
Video relay - if you use British Sign Language (BSL).
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.
If you're refused a budgeting advance
You can't appeal if your application is rejected, but you can ask for the decision to be looked at again. It will help if you can give new evidence or show that your circumstances have changed since your first request.
If you need money, check what extra help you can get.
If you're in debt or rent arrears
There are some steps you can take to help you reduce your debt if you've just applied for Universal Credit.
You can also read our advice on dealing with debt.
If you’re struggling with money
There are things you can do to save on your regular living costs. Check what to do if you need help with living costs.
If you’re finding it hard to pay your bills, you can get help. Find out more about getting help with your bills.