Ten ways to get extra help if you're on Universal Credit including cheap broadband and reduced energy bills

MILLIONS of households who are on Universal Credit can get extra financial help including cheap broadband and reduced energy bills.

Claiming benefits can unlock access to other support, including cash for childcare and housing.

With the cost of living on the rise, it's more important than ever to make sure you're getting all the help you're entitled to.

The maximum standard amount of Universal Credit you can get is £525.72, if you're part of a couple where one or both of you is aged 25 or over.

Single claimants over the age of 25 get £334.91 as their maximum standard allowance.

You could get more than this if you have children or are eligible for help with housing costs.


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Universal Credit claimants are also entitled to other benefits and financial support.

We explain what extra help you can get and how to apply.

Advance payments

Universal Credit claimants have a five week wait from their claim being accepted to actually getting the cash.

But if you don't have enough to live on during this period you can ask for an advance payment to get some money straight away.

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This means you can cover essential expenses such as food and rent.

You can also get an advance payment if you are already on Universal Credit and your circumstances change, meaning you're entitled to more money.

However, both kinds of advances will have to be repaid in instalments from your future payments.

To apply, you can speak to your Jobcentre Plus work coach, apply through your online account or call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.

Budgeting advance

Another kind of advance payment can help you with budgeting, and you could get a maximum of £812.

The payment is to help with emergency household needs such as replacing broken white goods.

You can also use it for costs associated with work, such as uniform for a new job or travel to an interview.

Again, this is a loan so you will have to repay it through your Universal Credit payments in the future.

The minimum amount you can borrow is £100.

Single claimants can get £348, couples can claim up to £464 and if you have children you could get £812 in total.

Extra benefits

If you're eligible for Universal Credit, there might be other benefits you're entitled to.

For example, if you have a long-term physical or mental health condition you could get a Personal Independence Payment.

This is worth up to £7,500 a year if you get the maximum amount,

Use a benefits calculator to check that you're getting all of the financial support you're eligible for.

Cheaper broadband

Many broadband providers offer cheaper packages for households on benefits including Universal Credit.

You could save up to £144 a year by switching to one of these social tariffs.

It's estimated that up to 4.2million households could be eligible for these deals.

But regulator Ofcom says only around 55,000 homes have taken advantage of the offers.

BT and Virgin Media are among the firms offering cheaper deals – check whether you could benefit from reduced broadband rates.

Energy bills

Rising energy bills are putting pressure on household finances at the moment.

If you're on Universal Credit you can apply for extra support.

Councils are giving out cash for families who need help with bills through the Household Support Fund.

The eligibility criteria varies across the country but many local authorities will offer help to people on Universal Credit.

You might also be able to claim the £150 Warm Home Discount later this year.

Check your supplier's website over the next few months to see when applications will open for winter 2022.

Water bills

Lower income families can apply to the WarerSure scheme to save hundreds of pounds on their bill each year.

If you claim Universal Credit or a number of other benefits, you may be able to cap your water bill.

To qualify for the scheme you need to already have a water meter installed, and prove you need to use a lot of water.

You also need to have three or more children under the age of 19 living in the house, and receive child benefit for them.

Or, you need to prove you have a medical condition that you need additional water for.

Suppliers cap the cost of water bills under this scheme at the average household bill your water company charges.

Ask your own supplier what schemes it has or check CCW’s round-up of the different help available.

Many water companies offer help to customers who cannot afford to pay their bills – find yours here.

Exactly what help you can get and who is eligible will depend on who your supplier is.

Some suppliers might agree to reduce or wipe your debt if you're struggling to pay your water bills.

Housing costs

Discretionary Housing Payments provide financial support to help with rent or housing costs.

You can apply if you get the housing element of Universal Credit or housing benefit.

It can be used to pay for a rent shortfall, a deposit or advance rent if you need to move home.

You will have to apply through your local council.

Free prescriptions

You might be able to claim free NHS prescriptions if you're getting Universal Credit.

One of the following must also apply:

  • You had no income or net earnings of £435 or less in your last Universal Credit assessment period.
  • You had no income or net earnings of £935 or less in your last Universal Credit assessment period, and had a child element included in your award or had limited capability for work or work-related activity.

It's worth noting that if you're in a couple, the net earnings applies to your combined income.

To prove you qualify for free prescriptions, you must bring a copy of your Universal Credit notice when going to get your prescription.

Check the NHS website for more information on how to apply.

Childcare help

There are several schemes to help with childcare costs that are accessible to families on Universal Credit.

You could get up to £442 through the Healthy Start Scheme to pay for food if you're pregnant or have a young child.

Pregnant mothers can get a £500 Surestart Maternity Grant if they claim certain benefits including Universal Credit.

Once your child is at school, families on Universal Credit might be able to get free lunches.

That's if your household income is less than  £7,400 a year.

You can contact your child's school for more information.

Funeral expenses

Universal Credit claimants can get a Funeral Expenses Payment to get help following the death of a close friend or relative.

The amount you'll get will depend on your personal circumstances and usually won't cover all of the funeral costs.

It can be used for a number of costs including burial or cremation fees and travel to the funeral.

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To get the help, you must be the deceased's partner, close relative or friend.

Your Funeral Expenses Payment will be deducted from any money you get from the deceased’s estate.

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