Money Advice Service

If you’re waiting for your first benefit payment and have priority bills to pay or essential costs, help is available. Don’t be tempted to take out expensive credit like payday loans – they will only make your situation worse. Look into some of the other sources of help that are available instead.

Ask your Jobcentre for a short-term advance

Get personalised help while you’re waiting for your Universal Credit payment from our Money Manager tool.

You can ask for a short-term benefit advance if you’re in financial need and either:

  • You’ve made a new claim for a benefit and you’re waiting for your first payment
  • You’ve had a significant change in your circumstances that means your benefit will go up by a large amount and you can’t wait until the next payment

If you are awarded an advance payment of your benefit you will normally pay it back out of your future payments.

You can make a claim in person at your local Jobcentre Plus office. Or you can call the helpline that deals with the benefit you’re claiming.

Apply for help with the rent

If you’re facing hardship and need some help with paying your rent or Council Tax, you might be able to apply for a short-term Discretionary Housing Payment from your council.

Apply for an interest-free loan

Budgeting Loans from the Social Fund

If you’re getting a benefit such as:

  • Income Support,
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

You might be able to apply for a Budgeting Loan to cover essential expenses such as clothing or footwear or furniture for your home.

Ask your adviser at the Jobcentre Plus for an application form.

Budgeting Loans are not available if you’ve just made a new benefit claim.

You need to have been claiming for at least 26 weeks.

Budgeting Advances if you’re on Universal Credit

You can’t claim a Budgeting Advance if you’re waiting for your first Universal Credit payment, you’ll have to claim a short-term advance if you’re facing hardship.

Once you’ve been claim claiming Universal Credit for six months or more you might be able to claim a Budgeting Advance to cover essential expenses.

You will have to pay the money back from future Universal Credit payments.

Ask your adviser at the Jobcentre Plus how to apply.

Find your local welfare scheme

If you need help with heating or food bills:

Apply to your local credit union for a loan

If you find that you are going to have to borrow money, see if there’s a credit union in your area.

They specialise in offering loans at low rates and helping members who need financial help.

Some credit unions might lend money straightaway to new members without having to save with them first.

You will have to pay a higher interest charge than the rates offered to regular savers, but this rate is usually much lower than other high-cost credit, such as payday loans or doorstep loans.

Approval for a loan will depend on what the credit union offers and your personal circumstances.

The credit union will want to be sure you can afford to pay the loan back but they’ll work with you to make your repayments manageable.

Find out more in our guide Borrowing from a credit union

Other help you might need

Get help with budgeting

If you need help with personal budgeting, ask at the Jobcentre and they will be able to tell you where face-to-face support is available.

Alternatively, go to our page on How to budget for a monthly benefit payment.

Get free debt advice

If you’re struggling to pay off existing debts, seek advice from a debt advice charity straight away.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.