YOU could be entitled to extra cash if you’re on Universal Credit to help you with bills and expenses.
Your family could be missing out on extra money or big savings by not checking out these helpful grants and schemes.
If you’re on Universal Credit, you can apply for a Budgeting Advance to help with unexpected costs such as replacing white goods, starting a new job, or funeral costs.
The smallest amount you can borrow is £100, and you can get up to £384 if you’re single, £464 if you’re part of a couple, or £812 if you have children.
The amount you get depends on how much you have in savings and your ability to pay the loan back.
You can only get this loan if you’ve been on Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or State Pension Credit for six months or more.
However, you can get it before six months if you need the money to help you start a job or stay in work.
If you’ve earned more than £2,600 (or £3,600 combined for couples) in the last six months, or you haven’t paid off a previous Budget Advance loan, you won’t be able to apply.
Contact your local Jobcentre Plus coach to find out more.
School Uniform Grant
If you’re struggling with the cost of school uniforms for your little ones, then you could get up to £150 to help.
Under the Education Act 1996, local authorities have the power to provide financial help to parents on low incomes to assist them with buying school clothing for their children.
The government has an online service where you can check if your local council will help.
Eligibility varies across the country, but financial help is often dependent on what year your child is in and how much you earn.
For example, in the London Borough of Hounslow, a £60 school clothing grant is payable to secondary school pupils attending year seven and year nine only, and only for families whose household income does not exceed £16,190.
Charities often help those need, and you may be eligible for a charitable grant to support you.
These grants are given by charitable funds, and do not have to be paid back.
Usually, charitable funds are set up to help people in need who have something in common.
For example, grants are available for people who are ill, have a criminal record, or people who follow vegetarian diets.
You can use the Turn2us online grant search to find what grants you can get.
What's the difference between a grant and a loan?
Some types of extra cash offered to those on benefits are called grants, whilst others are called loans.
The difference is that a loan requires you to repay the money that you borrow, but a grant does not.
You usually have to pay interest on loans, and repay them within a set period.
It is important that you check the terms of the loan you are being given, as some can only be used for certain things.
Some grants also can only be used to purchase certain things, and may require receipts.
Speak to the provider of your loan or grant to make sure you're eligible.
Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI)
If you’re a homeowner and claiming certain benefits, you may be able to get help towards interest payments on your mortgage, or loans taken out for home improvements.
Known as Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI), it’s paid as a loan which you’ll need to repay with interest when you sell or transfer ownership of your home.
This loan cannot be used to repay the amount you borrowed or missed mortgage payments.
Those claiming Universal Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, and Pension Credit can apply.
To apply, you should contact your benefit provider. You can find out more here.
Council Tax Rebate
Many homes are placed in the wrong tax band, and you could potentially be owed thousands if you've been overpaying.
Difficulties with valuing homes when the council tax system was introduced mean that many homes were placed in the wrong tax band.
But, you can check the value of your house and ask your council to reassess your property.
It's really easy to find out if you're overpaying on council tax, and how to get a rebate.
Flexible Support Fund (FSF)
The Flexible Support Fund (FSF) is designed to help you back into work by covering the costs of getting a job.
The money can be used to cover the costs of training for a job, travel to interviews, childcare, work tools, uniforms, and more.
There no set maximum amount that can be awarded and it will vary from case to case.
Once you find a job, you'll have 14 days to provide the job centre with receipts for any goods and services that you paid for using the grant.
To find out more, contact your local job centre or speak to your nearest Citizens Advice Bureaux.
Sure Start Maternity Grant
Baby on the way? The government offers a one-off payment of £500 towards the cost of having a child, known as the Sure Start Maternity Grant.
You can only qualify for the grant if you are expecting your first child and you or your partner are claiming certain benefits.
If you have children already, you can get the grant if you're expecting multiple births (such as twins or triplets) or you're caring for somebody else's child.
You can claim from 11 weeks before the week your baby is due, and up to six months after the baby is born.
If you’re becoming responsible for a child, such as through adoption, you must claim within six months of this happening.
To apply, you have to fill in a form which needs to be signed by a health professional, such as a nurse or doctor.
Find out more about the Sure Start Maternity Grant and how to claim.
Free Boilers and Loft Insulation
Under the Energy Company Obligations (ECO) scheme, energy companies are required to upgrade boilers and install insulation for those on certain benefits.
You don't always have to be a customer to take advantage of the deal.
Installing new insulation in your home can save you up to £480 a year in energy bills, while a better boiler could save you around £300 a year.
That means more money in your pocket, and a warmer home too.
E.on, EDF and Npower all offer to install insulation or boilers either for free or at a drastically reduced price.
You usually need to own your home in order to take advantage of this offer.
Find out more about eligibility and how to claim using this guide by MoneySavingExpert.com.
Home Improvement Grant
You may be able to get cash to help with repairs, improvements, or adaptions around your home – provided you are a homeowner or private tenant.
It's down to your local authority whether you'll be able to claim, but grants are usually paid to people who are older, disabled, or on a low income.
You usually have to be a private tenant or homeowner to apply for such grants.
To make a claim you should contact your local authority, or find out more from your local Home Improvement Agency.
Disabled Facilities Grant
If you or somebody you live with is disable, you may also be able to get a Disabled Facilities Grant.
The purpose of this grant is to pay for work to help a disabled person in their daily life.
Installing ramps, stair lifts, or specialist bathroom facilities are just some of the things the grant covers.
You can only apply for work that is necessary for your needs and reasonable for your home.
Contact your local authority yo find out about the grant, or speak to your nearest Citizens Advice Bureaux.
Cold Weather Payments
The Cold Weather Payment gives you £25 for each week of cold weather between November 1 and March 31 each year, provided you claim certain benefits.
Cold weather is defined as days when the average temperature is below 0°C.
The Department of Work and Pensions has a cold weather payment postcode checker where you can track your area's temperature.
You will receive the Cold Weather Payment automatically. However, if you think you should have but haven't you should contact the pension centre, Jobcentre, or Universal Credit.
Winter Fuel Payments
If you were born on or before 5 April 1954 you could get between £100 and £300 in Winter Fuel Payments.
You should get this payment automatically if you are eligible and claiming your State Pension or other social security benefit.
The payments are made between November and December, and you should get your money by January 13 at the latest.
If you're eligible but do not get paid automatically, you will need to make a claim online.
You could also be missing out on much-needed cash if you aren't on the right benefits, so make sure you check what you're entitled to.
Universal Credit combines six different benefits, and it's easy to find out if you are eligible.
The roll out of Universal Credit has been controversial, and has left many families going hungry over money worries.
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