BENEFITS EXPERT: Benefit claimant seeks help to buy goods after house move
Q. I am on Universal Credit and need help to purchase some goods following a house move.
I looked into a Social Fund application as I once applied for help some time ago when I used to receive Income Support but Universal Credit is not listed as a qualifying benefit. Is there any help for people on Universal Credit? I have one child include in my claim.
A. You can apply for a budgeting advance to meet any unexpected expenses. You must have been receiving Universal Credit for at least 6 months before you can apply (unless the advance is in order to help you into work or stay in work and then you can apply at any time). If you were receiving any legacy means tested benefits (Income Support, Income Based JSA, Income Based ESA or Pension Credit) before transferring onto UC then your time on these benefits can count towards the 6 month qualification period.
Any earnings and savings you may have will be taken into account (these will vary depending on whether you or single or a couple, any children you may have and your age). The maximum amount payable will also vary, currently a single person is allowed £348, couples £464 and if you have children £812. The minimum payment you can receive is £100.
To apply you simply contact your local job centre and provide details of what you require the loan for. A decision usually takes 5 to 6 weeks.
If you are unsuccessful there is no formal appeal process but you can ask for the decision to be looked at again and to do so you must request this within 28 days of the rejection. Remember you may be rejected if you have outstanding loans/previous advances and these must normally be repaid before you can apply again.
If you are awarded the payment then this will be repaid over 12 months and normally through deductions from your ongoing UC claim. If your claim ends then you will be able to continue the repayments directly to the DWP via a direct debit or standing order. There is no interest charged on the budgeting advance.
Finally before applying for the payment you should also look to see if there are other sources of funding or grants that may be available for you. So for example Universal Credit claimants are also potentially eligible to apply for Sure Start Maternity Grants if they or their partner have recently given birth and help for funeral costs are also open to UC claimants. You may also be entitled to help for local welfare assistance from your council and local organisations will often help with donated furniture.