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Last updated:
01/04/2020

How to apply for Personal Budgeting Support

Personal budgeting support is available for people who need extra help with money advice or alternative payment arrangements when moving to Universal Credit. Find out how to apply for Personal Budgeting Support.

What is personal budgeting support?

If you are moving from legacy benefits to Universal Credit, you will find that there are changes to how you get your money, including:

  • a single monthly payment for the whole household.
  • Monthly payment.
  • Having to pay your rent from your monthly payment.

These changes might make it harder for you to manage your money. Personal budgeting support is help that you can get from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to help you manage your money.

There are two different ways of getting personal budgeting support:

  • Money advice.
  • Alternative payment arrangements.

What is the money advice element of personal budgeting support

Money advice is support and advice to help you manage your monthly Universal Credit payment and pay your bills on time.

You can get money advice:

  • Online.
  • By phone.
  • Face-to-face.

The DWP do not give you money advice. Instead, they ask an external organisation to do this. This could be the Citizens Advice Bureau or Money Advice Service, for example.

Your work coach will talk to you about how you budget your money and will offer you money advice if they think you need it.

They might suggest you use an online information service if they think this will be enough support for you to learn how to manage your money. Or, if they feel you need more help, they will refer you to a phone-based or face-to-face service for more support.

Money advice helps you:

  • Make a budget sheet of your incomings and outgoings.
  • Help you decide whether your spending is essential or non-essential.
  • Switch utility suppliers to help you get a better deal.
  • Manage any debts that you have.

What is the alternative payment arrangement element of personal budgeting support?

Alternative payment arrangements are when the DWP changes the way that you get your Universal Credit for you to make it easier to manage your money. There are three ways you can get alternative payment arrangements:

  • A managed payment to your landlord.
  • More frequent payments.
  • Split payments.

A managed payment to your landlord means that the DWP will pay the housing element of your Universal Credit directly to your landlord, rather than to you.

More frequent payments mean that you get your payment split into two or four payments a month. For example, if your Universal Credit is £300 per month, you might get £150 on the 1st of the month and another £150 on the 15th of the month.

Split payments mean that your Universal Credit payment is halved 50/50 between you and your partner.

You may get alternative payment arrangements because the DWP realise that you are struggling with your money. Or you can tell your work coach that you are finding it challenging to manage your money.

You might also find that your landlord or someone close to you tells the DWP that you are struggling to pay your rent each month.
You can only get alternative payment arrangements if there is a risk of financial harm to you or your family if you do not get it.

Laura’s story

Laura has schizophrenia and lives in a housing association property with her two children. She recently started claiming Universal Credit.

She gets one monthly payment, and she must pay her rent and all her bills using this money.

Laura finds that her medication makes her sleepy and sometimes confused, and has forgotten to pay her rent on several occasions

She is worried because she now has rent arrears which could mean she could get evicted from her property.

Laura speaks to her job coach and asks for alternative payment arrangements so that her rent gets paid directly to her landlord. The job coach also arranges for Laura to get some money advice from a local advice agency.

Can I get alternative payment arrangements because of my mental illness?

The DWP says that if you have a mental health condition, you are more likely to need alternative payment arrangements than other people.

You should tell your job coach about your mental illness if it makes it hard for you to manage your money.

The DWP should also consider any evidence you have from other people that it is hard for you to manage your money. For example, if you have a debt and mental health evidence form, you should show this to your job coach. You could also ask a health professional to write you a letter stating that it is hard for you to manage your money.

You can only get a managed payment to your landlord when:

  • You have at least two months of rent arrears, or
  • You have at least one month of rent arrears, and you have been in rent arrears in the past.

The DWP will suggest that you get money advice first, but if you still struggle to pay your rent, then they will arrange a managed payment to your landlord.

You will need to show the DWP proof of your rent arrears, for example, a letter from your landlord.

You can only get a split payment when the primary claimant is not managing the family’s finances well and causing harm. For example, if there is financial abuse.

You cannot appeal against a decision related to alternative payment arrangements. However, you can ask the DWP to look at the decision again if you give them more evidence.

How do I apply for alternative payment arrangements?

If you would like an alternative payment arrangement, you can speak to your work coach or contact the DWP.

How long will my alternative payment arrangement last?

When you receive an alternative payment arrangement, the DWP will set a review date. This will be between three and 24 months.

At the review date, the DWP will see how you are managing your money. If they think you can now manage without alternative payment arrangements, you will go back to having regular Universal Credit payments.

At your review, you should tell the DWP if you think you will still struggle to manage your money.

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