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

Check when you’ll get cost of living payments

In July and November 2022, the government gave cost of living payments to people getting Universal Credit.

The government will give you another cost of living payment of £301 between 25 April and 17 May 2023.

You’ll get this payment if you were paid Universal Credit for an assessment period ending between 26 January and 25 February 2023.

You’ll get the payment even if your Universal Credit was paid to your landlord or if you didn’t get paid because of deductions.

If you started a Universal Credit claim by 26 January 2023 and you’re waiting for a decision, you can still get the cost of living payment. You won’t get it until your claim is successful.

If you didn’t get a previous cost of living payment and you think you should have, you should contact Universal Credit.

Check how to contact Universal Credit on GOV.UK.

When you can get a budgeting advance

You can get a budgeting advance if you need the money to help you get or stay in work – like train tickets for a job interview. If you need the money for any other reason, you’ll need to have claimed 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 live with a partner. You can’t get a budgeting advance if you or your partner is 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.
Universal Credit helpline Telephone: 0800 328 5644 Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744 Textphone: 0800 328 1344 Relay UK – if you can’t hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 328 5644 You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website. Video relay – if you use British Sign Language (BSL). You can find out how to use video relay on YouTube. Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

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 contact us.

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.

If you’re struggling with money

There are things you can do to save on your regular living costs. Check what to do if you need help with living costs.

If you’re finding it hard to pay your bills, you can get help. Find out more about getting help with your bills.