A £20 a week Universal Credit uplift in payments has been extended for another six months.
The Chancellor will announce the boost for low-income households in his Budget today.
🔵 Read our Budget 2021 live blog for the latest news & updates
The Government’s temporary coronavirus support for families on benefits is worth £1,040 a year and was supposed to only last a year.
Instead, claimants will continue to get the extra cash until the autumn, when the support is then expected to be phased out.
From then, only the poorest of families will get the increased payments.
The u-turn comes as MPs, charities and campaigners warned removing the boost will plunge thousands of families further into debt.
What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit
IF you’re experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don’t cover costs, here are your options:
- Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it’s a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit payout.
- Alternative Payment Arrangements – If you’re falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you’re part of a couple.
- Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the Government for emergency household costs of up to £348 if you’re single, £464 if you’re part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You’ll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You’ll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
- Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax by applying for a Council Tax Reduction. Alternatively, you might be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments to help cover your rent.
- Foodbanks – If you’re really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.
The coronavirus crisis has pushed millions of more people onto the benefits system in the past year as businesses and employers have been forced to close.
As of January 2021, six million Brits were on Universal Credit, up from 2.8million in the some month a year earlier, according to Government stats.
The Treasury had been reluctant to keep the top-up as it is estimated to cost taxpayers £6billion a year.
Speaking to The Sun ahead of the Budget, Richard Lane, director of external affairs at StepChange Debt Charity, said he would welcome an extension of the programme, but that it still leaves families in a state of “uncertainty”.
He said: “A six month extension risks simply kicking the can down the road, leaving households to face significant uncertainty when unemployment is expected to be at its peak.
Mr Lane added the government should commit to a longer term extension.
Everyone who claims Universal Credit gets the £20 a week uplift, regardless of what elements you are entitled to.
Rishi Sunak to give self-employed £7.5K grants & extend furlough
Stamp duty holiday extended for months by Rishi Sunak in today’s Budget
Rishi Sunak to give 600k extra self-employed grants of up to £7,500 in Budget
FURLOUGH FOR LONGER
Rishi WILL extend furlough until end of September in boost for workers
Budget 2021: Self-employed to get fourth grant of £7,500 Rishi Sunak to confirm
‘WHATEVER IT TAKES’
Rishi prepares to extend furlough & extra Universal Credit for months
The extra cash has automatically been added to the standard allowance element for all Universal Credit claimants and can be viewed in claimants online journals.
Here are seven other ways to get help paying bills if you’re on Universal Credit.
Universal Credit’s tax on workers should be cut to help struggling Brits back into employment, a new think tank report has said.