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Getting a Universal Credit budgeting advance

This advice applies to Scotland

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
  • unexpected expenses - eg an unexpected bill
  • work-related expenses - eg buying uniform or tools
  • 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.

When you can get a budgeting advance

Unless you need the money for work-related costs, like train tickets to job interviews, you'll need to have claimed any 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're in a couple.

You can't get a budgeting advance if you or your partner are 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.

The number you need to call depends on how you normally manage your Universal Credit claim.

If you manage your Universal Credit claim over the phone

Universal Credit helpline (live service)
Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to these numbers are free.

If you have a Universal Credit online account

Universal Credit helpline (full service)
Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to this number are free.

 

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.

You can read more about getting help with your living costs or check if you could get a grant. You can also get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

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.

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