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Last updated:
18/06/2020

How can I get financial help if I have a Universal Credit sanction?

If you have received a Universal Credit sanction and are struggling financially, you can apply for a hardship payment. We explain what a hardship payment is, how to apply, and how you will pay it back.

What is a hardship payment?

A hardship payment is a loan provided by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which may be available if your Universal Credit payments have been temporarily reduced because of a Universal Credit sanction.

Hardship payments are there to help you cover household expenses like food and bills.

You will have to repay the loan through deductions each month from your Universal Credit when your sanction ends, and the loan is repaid in full.

Am I eligible for a hardship payment?

Each application for Universal Credit will be assessed on an individual basis. To be eligible for a hardship loan, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  1. You must be 18 years old or over.
  2. Your Universal Credit payment must have been stopped or reduced because of a sanction.
  3. You are struggling to meet your needs or the needs of a child or younger person you are responsible for such as rent, heating, food and hygiene.
  4. You must be able to prove that you have made an effort to stop spending money on non-essential items.
  5. You must have tried to get money from other places such as friends, family members, additional benefits or tried to get extra hours if you are working.
  6. You must have completed all of the work-related activities you were supposed to do in the last seven days before applying.

If you are not eligible for a hardship loan, you should speak to a welfare benefits advisor as there may be other ways for you to get financial help while living on a sanction.

How to apply for a hardship payment

To apply for a hardship payment, you need to contact the Universal Credit helpline. If you're claiming Universal Credit as a couple, only one of you needs to apply.

A hardship payment will only cover you until your next regular monthly Universal Credit payment. If you are still struggling to meet your basic needs the following month, you will need to make another application.

Providing evidence when you apply for a hardship payment

When applying for a hardship loan, you must provide all evidence the DWP requires. This will include the following:

  • Provide proof that you have tried to source other income.
  • Provide evidence of any other income or savings you may have.
  • Explain what you have done to reduce non-essential costs
  • Show evidence of what living costs you are finding difficult to meet.
  • Give a breakdown of your current budget with a financial statement that shows your monthly income and living costs - You can use our free budget calculator.

How much is a hardship payment

A hardship payment is approximately 60% of the sanction you received the previous month.

If you are still struggling to meet your basic needs with the addition of a hardship loan you should speak to a welfare benefits advisor as there may be other ways for you to get financial help while living on a sanction.

How will I have to pay back a hardship payment

You will have to repay the loan through deductions each month from your Universal Credit when your sanction ends, and the loan is repaid in full.

The DWP will reduce your Universal Credit payment by 15-25% of your standard allowance - the basic amount you receive, but not from any elements you claim for.

If you are struggling to meet your basic needs because you're paying back a hardship payment, you should speak to a welfare benefits advisor as they can ask the DWP to reduce the rate you make your repayments at.

Appealing a hardship payment decision

If you have been rejected for a hardship payment, you can ask them to reconsider this through a mandatory reconsideration. You should provide any new evidence which is relevant since you first applied.

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