Claimants are encouraged to educate themselves on how they can get more support if they are financially struggling. 

Your part-time employees who are also claiming universal credit could be entitled to financial help from benefits. This article covers all the ways claimants can request financial support if struggling to make ends meet. 

If you have employees on universal credit, you should urge them to apply for any financial support if they find it hard to manage, especially during the cost of living crisis. There are multiple ways claimants can request support from the government. The DWP has stated: “If you’re in financial difficulties, you can get help and advice from the Government, local councils, and other organisations.” This advice comes from inflation and claimants facing cuts in their income, such as NIC. 

There are different options available for claimants to aid the pressure of the living crisis. Claimants have ten possibilities: 

Hardship Payments

The hardship fund provides relief if claimants have been sanctioned or if their benefits have suddenly stopped unexpectedly. To qualify for the hardship payment, individuals need to meet the criteria of being unable to provide for themselves (and those who depend on them) the basic needs such as rent, food and heating. 

Alternative Payments 

If claimants have financial difficulties or are behind on their rent, they can apply for an alternative payment arrangement (APA). Landlords can also apply on behalf of their tenants. This will mean that the claimant’s benefits will be adjusted so:

  • Rent is paid directly to the landlord,
  • paid more than once a month to manage spending,
  • and split payments for couples. 

Advanced Payments 

Applicants of universal credit are required to wait at least six weeks before their first payment. Therefore applicants who are still waiting to be paid can request an advanced payment. This is technically a mini loan by the government with 0 interest. Applicants will pay back the money borrowed through their claim. 

Budgeting advance 

Claimants may also be able to get a budgeting advance which can be up to £812, to aid emergency household needs or the cost of getting or keeping a job. Like advanced payments, budget payments are also expected to be paid back. Single claimants can ask for the minimum amount of £100, with £348 being the maximum amount. Couples can claim £464, and those with children will be entitled to £812. 

Claimants must earn less than £2,600 over the past six months to be able to qualify for the loan. 

Reduced water bill

The WaterSure scheme allows universal claimants to be entitled to reduced water bills. The system will enable claimants to have their water bill capped, regardless of using more water than average. To qualify, claimants must be responsible for three or more children under the age of 19 who are in full-time education or living with someone who has a medical condition that requires significant water use.

Cheap broadband 

Claimants are entitled to discounted broadband packages. Many internet suppliers are offering packages to those on benefits to help with the cost of broadband. Companies such as BT, Virgin Media O2, and KCOM are among the many businesses offering these services to claimants. Uswitch.com announced that an estimated 16 million people are eligible for discounted tariffs. However, a little as 15% apply for them. 

Heating costs 

The affordable warmth scheme gives claimants cash for installing central heating systems. Additionally, claimants could be entitled to a free gas boiler replacement. E.ON is offering this relief due to the increase in energy bills. The scheme will apply if applicants are on a low income and have a faulty/broken boiler. Those who apply for the affordable warmth scheme do not have to be clients of E.ON to receive the support required. 

Housing costs 

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) provide financial support to either help with rent or housing costs, and this can also include paying for rent deposits. Applicants qualify for DHP if they claim housing benefits or housing aid from universal credit. 

If claimants of UC who have a mortgage, the Support for Mortgage Interest scheme can help homeowners receive support on their home loans. 

Free prescriptions and treatment. 

Universal credit claimers are entitled to free prescriptions on the NHS and free dental care, eye tests, glasses, hospital appointments, wigs, and fabric support. For more information on healthcare support whilst being on universal credit, check out the GOV.UK website.

Child costs 

Those who have children and are claiming universal credit are entitled to childcare costs. 2 – 4-year-olds get over 500 hours of free childcare each year. Applicants can also claim 80% back of childcare costs and receive childcare vouchers for nappies, food, and clothes.

There are tons of benefits that can help your employees (or you) get on top of their finances after the impact of the cost of living crisis. If you have staff who are also claiming universal credit and you require advice on how to support them you should contact your local jobcentre.  

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