How to apply for an emergency loan of up to £1,116 if you're on Universal Credit

UNIVERSAL credit claimants can apply for an emergency loan of up to £1,116 if they're struggling for cash.

There are two types of Universal Credit advance payments, and the amount you get will depend on your individual circumstances.

One of the advances is for new claimants to help them cover costs while waiting for their first payment.

It takes five weeks for your first payment to reach your bank account – a delay that The Sun has campaigned to reduce.

James Andrews, senior personal finance editor at Money.co,uk said: “Although an actual application to Universal Credit can be done in a relatively short amount of time, it can sometimes take weeks for the money to appear in your bank account."

As it is a loan, you will have to pay the money back and the repayments will come out of your future Universal Credit instalments.

The amount you can borrow will vary, but you could get up to 100% of your estimated Universal Credit payment.

The maximum standard allowance for a couple aged over 25 is £596.58 a month – but that includes the extra £20 per week Covid uplift which ends next month.

If you have children you will also get up to £282.50 for your first child and £237.08 for any other qualifying children.

James said: "That’s a theoretical total of £1,116.16, provided you qualify for the grace period of the benefit cap."

You could get more or less than this depending on your age, whether you live with a partner, have children or need help with housing costs.

But you won't be allowed to borrow an amount that would take more than two years for you to pay back. 

Claimants can ask for the repayments to be stalled for three months – but this is only approved in exceptional circumstances.

To apply, you should speak to your work coach or log on to your Universal Credit online account.

Alternatively, you could call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.

Current claimants whose circumstances have changed, meaning they're entitled to a bigger payment, can also apply for an advance.

The advance bridges the gap until the increased amount is processed.

The money will be transferred to you within three working days and is supposed to last the full five weeks before your first payment.

The other kind of loan is a budgeting advance and is for Brits who are already claiming Universal Credit.

It is designed to help with emergency costs including household repairs, getting a job, or funeral costs.

The smallest amount you can claim is £100, and the maximum for single people is £348.

This rises to £464 if you're part of a couple and £812 if you have children.

You will also need to repay it through your regular Universal Credit payments – your payments will be lower until you pay it back.

For both kinds of advances, if you no longer get Universal Credit you will need to repay by other means, such as from wages or other benefits.

What other help is available?

There are other ways to get help if you're struggling while waiting for your first Universal Credit payment but don't want to borrow money.

Make sure you are claiming all the benefits you're eligible for by using an online calculator.

You can apply for the Flexible Support Fund to cover childcare costs during the five week wait.

It can also be used to pay extra costs if you're looking for a job such as travel expenses to attend an interview and uniforms or tools needed to start work.

There's no set amount of money you'll be given, it depends on individual circumstances.

To apply you should speak to your local Job Centre advisor.

You can also contact your local council as they may be able to help you through a hardship fund or the Covid Local Support Grant.

Your children may be eligible for free school meals if you claim certain benefits.

If you're struggling to pay for food you could use a local foodbank. You should contact Citizens Advice for a referral.

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