Do you claim Universal Credit? There are a number of useful ways you could get ...

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From paying for festivities to keeping warm in the cold weather, the Christmas season can see many people feel the pinch. With the extra expenses to cope with, making ends meet during this time can prove to be a challenge, particularly for those who are on a low income or who are out of work. It may be that Universal Credit and other benefits claimants can get extra financial support during this time.

Warm Home Discount Scheme

A person may be able to get £140 off their electricity bill for winter 2019 to 2020 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme - and if a person’s supplier provides them with both gas and electricity, the discount could be applied on the gas bill instead.

There are two ways to qualify, and this is if a person gets the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, or if someone is on a low income and they meet their energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme.

This latter situation is known as being in the “broader group”, and this is if a person gets certain means-tested benefits.

In this circumstance, a person's electricity supplier decides who can get the discount, and gov.uk instructs people to check with their supplier to see if they’re eligible and how to apply.

The number of discounts suppliers can give are limited, and the discount will be applied to the bill by March 31, 2020.

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Advance payments

It can take up to five weeks for the first Universal Credit payment to be made, gov.uk states.

If a person needs help to pay their bills or cover other costs during this time, it is possible to apply to get an advance.

The advance must be paid back, starting out of the first payment.

Universal Credit claimants can choose how many months the advance is paid back over, with this currently being up to within 12 months.

Budgeting Advances

It may be that Universal Credit claimants can get a Budgeting Advance to help with emergency household costs, getting a job or staying in work, or funeral costs.

This is a loan, and ends to be repaid through the regular Universal credit payments - meaning payments will be lower until it’s paid back.

The smallest amount a person can borrow is £100, but the maximum varies, with this being £348 if a person is single, £464 for those who are part of a couple, and £812 for people who have children.

Hardship Payments

Hardship payments are reduced-rate payments of certain benefits which are made in limited circumstances.

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