Make a big difference to your monthly budget and your life!
Charlie managed to find an extra £129 a month after using our calculator to find out he was missing out on some benefits he was entitled to.
Put your plan into action
If you’re struggling with the cost of living, you’re not alone. Many people are finding their income stretched and when dealing with debts too, budgets are being squeezed more than ever before.
If you receive Universal Credit…
If you receive Universal Credit (UC), Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and have had your benefits sanctioned – you may be able to apply for a Hardship Payment to help pay for essential costs such as rent, heating, food or hygiene products).
To apply for any Hardship Payments, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to show why you’re struggling to cover your essential costs. You can use our budget sheet to help you with this.
Universal Credit Hardship Payments
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will work out the daily rate for your Hardship Payment by multiplying your daily rate by the number of days your sanction lasts. Your total Hardship Payment will be roughly 60% of the amount of the sanction.
The payment is only paid for a limited number of days, so you’ll need to reapply if:
- You need another Hardship Payment
- You are in a different assessment period that has been sanctioned
IMPORTANT: A Universal Credit Hardship Payment is a loan that you will have to pay back.
Am I eligible for a Universal Credit Hardship Payment?
You could qualify if you meet the following criteria:
- You’re aged 18 or over
- You’re expected to take part in work preparation or a work search
- The DWP accepts you will face hardship if you do not receive a payment
How do I claim a Universal Credit Hardship Payment?
When applying for a Hardship Payment, you’ll probably be asked to provide evidence that you’ve only been spending money on essential living costs, that you’ve tried to get money from elsewhere (for example, from friends or family) and agree that you’ll pay your Hardship Payment back.
If you receive Universal Credit, you may also be able to claim the following:
- Support with new job costs
- Free cash as part of the government’s Help to Save scheme
- Disabled Facilities Grant to make changes to your home
- Bereavement support payments
- The Flexible Support Fund is available to those on Universal Credit and can help pay for things you need to get into work and progress your career, such as initial childcare costs, training, uniforms, and work tools
- You can sign into your Universal Credit account here to explore the above options.
What to do to find extra income
Use our Benefits Calculator now to double-check you’re not missing out on any additional income you could be receiving.
- It’s free to use
- Can be completed within 5-10 minutes
- Helps you find out what benefits you can claim
- Can help you find that extra money you need each month
- Will save your progress – so, if you run out of time when using it, you come back to it later
What to do next
New benefit claims
- If your claim relates to Jobseeker’s Allowance – you can apply online here or you can call 0800 055 6688 Monday to Friday between 8am to 5pm
- If your claim relates to Universal Credit – you can apply online here. You’ll need to make an account on the website and make your claim within 28 days. Alternatively you can claim by phone through the Universal Credit helpline by calling 0800 328 5644 Monday to Friday between 8am to 6pm.
- If your claim relates to Employment and Support Allowance – you can apply online here. You’ll then be contacted by phone and told when and where to send your documentation. If you can’t make an application online or you’re an appointee for someone, call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 (choose option 3) Monday to Friday between 8am to 6pm.
JobSeeker’s Allowance Hardship Payments
How much can I get from a Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) Hardship Payment?
The amount you can get from a JSA Hardship Payment is decided by the DWP and depends on your needs.
You won’t have to repay your JSA Hardship Payment, this could change – so make sure you check with your Jobcentre Plus office before you submit your claim.
Am I eligible for a Jobseeker’s Allowance Hardship Payment?
You can only claim a JSA Hardship Payment if you receive income- based JSA. If you receive new style JSA and you’ve had a sanction, you might be able to claim a Universal Credit Hardship Payment.
You could qualify for a JSA Hardship Payment if:
- Your JSA has been suspended while the Jobcentre check that you’re doing enough to find work.
- Your JSA has been sanctioned.
- You’ve just applied for JSA, and the Jobcentre are checking that you’re able and willing for work.
- You’re in a vulnerable group and the DWP has decided that you do satisfy the job seeking conditions. You may be in a vulnerable group if you:
- are pregnant or responsible for a child
- qualify for a disability premium
- have a chronic medical condition
- care for someone who is claiming a disability benefit
- have been in local authority care in the last three years and are aged under 21.
- are pregnant or responsible for a child
You’ll need to explain why you need a JSA Hardship Payment on your application form and if there are any circumstances that make it more likely for you to experience hardship,
like health problems, disability, or pregnancy.
When making the decision, the DWP will take any resources that are available to you into account, which could be things like savings or other benefits that you receive.
How do I claim a Jobseeker’s Allowance Hardship Payment?
To apply for a JSA Hardship Payment you’ll need to ask your local Jobcentre Plus office for a Jobseeker’s Allowance Hardship application form.
Employment Support Allowance Hardship Payments
How much can I get from an Employment Support Allowance (ESA) Hardship Payment?
The amount you can get from an ESA Hardship Payment is decided by the DWP and depends on your circumstances. You could get 80% of your usual entitlement if someone in your household is pregnant or very seriously ill. If not, then you could get 60% of your usual ESA.
You won’t have to repay your ESA Hardship Payment, but, again, this could change – so make sure you check with your Jobcentre Plus office before you submit your claim.
Am I eligible for an Employment Support Allowance Hardship Payment?
You can only claim an ESA Hardship Payment if you receive income-related ESA and you, your partner, or a child that you receive child benefit for will experience hardship if payments aren’t made and:
- you’ve been sanctioned for failing to take part in a work-focused interview or work-related activity; or
- you’ve committed a benefit offence.
How do I claim an Employment Support Allowance Hardship Payment?
To apply for an ESA Hardship Payment you’ll need to ask your local Jobcentre Plus office for an Employment and Support Allowance Hardship application form.
You can qualify for Child Benefit if you’re responsible for raising a child who is under 16 years of age or if they’re under 20 and stay in approved education or training.
There isn’t a limit on how many children you can claim for but only one person can claim Child Benefit for each child.
You’ll receive a payment for each child you have claimed for every 4 weeks. The payments are as follows:
- £24 for the eldest or only child
- £15.90 for each additional child
The purpose of the Scottish Child Payment is to provide extra financial support for your family. You can get £25 per week for each child in your care that is under 16 years of age, and you’re free to spend it in any way you wish. If your application is successful, you’ll receive the payment every 4 weeks.
Scottish Child Payment is one of the 5 family payments provided by Social Security Scotland, along with Start Grant and Best Start Foods.
Cost of Living Payments
The latest update from the government on Cost of Living Payments to be made between Spring 2023 and Spring 2024 is as follows:
What cost-of-living payments will be available?
Some groups will receive payments to help with higher bills, including:
- £900 in total in three instalments in spring, autumn, and spring 2024 to households on means-tested benefits
- £300 for pensioner households in the winter
- £150 to people on certain disability benefits, paid in the summer.
The first instalment of £301 for those on means-tested benefits should have been made between 25 April and 17 May.
You could get up to three different types of payment depending on your circumstances on a particular date, or during a particular period:
- a Cost of Living Payment if you get a qualifying low-income benefit or tax credits
- a Disability Cost of Living Payment if you get a qualifying disability benefit
- a Pensioner Cost of Living Payment if you’re entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment for Winter 2022 – 2023
These payments aren’t taxable, and won’t affect existing benefits or tax credits you receive.
Exact payment windows will be announced closer to the time, but are spread across a longer period to ensure a consistent support offering throughout the year. They will broadly be as follows:
- £301 – First Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2023
- £150 – Disability Cost of Living Payment – during Summer 2023
- £300 – Second Cost of Living Payment – during Winter 2023/24
- £300 – Pensioner Cost of Living Payment – during Winter 2023/24
- £299 – Third Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2024
Disability Cost of Living Payment
You may get a lump sum of £150 if you’re in receipt of:
- Attendance Allowance
- Constant Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance for adults
- Disability Living Allowance for children
- Personal Independence Payment
- Adult Disability Payment (in Scotland)
- Child Disability Payment (in Scotland)
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
- War Pension Mobility Supplement
To be eligible, you must have received a payment (or later receive a payment) of one of the above qualifying benefits for 25 May 2022.
If you get a qualifying disability benefit from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and a qualifying disability benefit from DWP, you’ll get a Disability Cost of Living Payment from DWP only.
Most people will receive their payment by the beginning of October 2022, although some may receive this as early as 20 September. Payments will be made to people who get a qualifying disability from DWP first, before payments to people who get a qualifying benefit from the MoD.
Pensioner Cost of Living Payment
|Born between 26 Sept 1942 and 25 Sept 1956
|Born on or before 25 Sept 1942
|You qualify and live alone (or none of the people you live with qualify)
|You qualify and live with someone under 80 who also qualifies
|You qualify and live with someone 80 or over who also qualifies
|You qualify and live with a partner who qualifies, and either of you gets certain benefits
|£500 – only one of you will get the payment
|£600 – only one of you will get the payment
|You qualify and live with someone (not your partner) who qualifies, and either of you gets certain benefits
|£500 – you’ll both get the payment
|£600 – you’ll both get the payment
|You qualify, live in a care home and do not get certain benefits
Pension Credit gives you extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income. Pension Credit can also help with housing costs such as ground rent or service charges. You might get extra help if you’re a carer, severely disabled, or responsible for a child or young person.
Pension Credit is separate from your State Pension.
You can get Pension Credit even if you have other income, savings or own your own home.
Other help if you get Pension Credit
If you get Pension Credit you can also get other help, such as:
- Housing Benefit if you rent the property you live in
- Support for Mortgage Interest if you own the property you live in
- Council Tax discount
- Free TV licence if you’re aged 75 or over
- help with NHS dental treatment, glasses and transport costs for hospital appointments, if you get a certain type of Pension Credit
- help with your heating costs through the Warm Home Discount Scheme
- discount on the Royal Mail redirection service if you’re moving house
The new State Pension
If you’re of State Pension age, the amount you receive may change slightly every year. Your National Insurance record dictates the amount you receive.
The full new State Pension is £203.85 per week.
The amount you receive could be different if:
- You have over a certain amount of Additional State Pension.
- You deferred claiming your State Pension.
- You reached State Pension age before 6th April 2016.
If you receive less than the New State Pension amount, look at our Pension Credit information to see if you’re entitled to claim additional support.
Marriage Allowance allows you to transfer 10% (£1,260) of your personal tax allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner if you earn less than the personal tax allowance, which is usually £12,570. Find out more about Marriage Allowance here.
Extra money available for carers
You could get £69.70 a week if you care for someone for at least 35 hours a week and they get certain benefits. You don’t have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for. Check if you’re eligible for Carer’s Allowance here.
The National Living Wage
In the UK, your employer must pay you a minimum amount for the hours that you work. This is known as the National Minimum Wage, unless you’re aged over 23 – in that case it’s called the National Living Wage.
The rates change every April and since 1st April 2023, they are:
|Current Rate (from April 1)
Help to Save Scheme – get help with savings if you’re on a low income
Help to Save is a flexible savings scheme that allows people to save up to £50 a month for up to four years.
- You can save between £1 and £50 each calendar month. You don’t have to pay money in every month.
- You can pay money into your Help to Save account by debit card, standing order or bank transfer.
- You can pay in as many times as you like, but the most you can pay in each calendar month is £50. For example, if you’ve saved £50 by 8th January you won’t be able to pay in again until 1st February.
- You can only withdraw money from your Help to Save account to your bank account.
The Help to Save Scheme is designed to help people on low incomes start saving. You can open an account if you’re receiving:
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit – and you’re entitled to Working Tax Credit
- Universal Credit and you (with your partner if it’s a joint claim) had take-home pay of £658.64 or more in your last monthly assessment period
The government tops up the savings pot with a bonus of up to 50%. So, if you save the max of £2400 for the four years, you could earn a £1,200 bonus top up.
How do bonuses work within the Help to Save Scheme?
You get bonuses at the end of the second and fourth years. They’re based on how much you’ve saved.
How will the Help to Save Scheme affect my benefits?
Saving money through a Help to Save account could affect your eligibility for certain benefits and how much you get.
- Universal Credit – if you or your partner have £6,000 or less in personal savings this will not affect how much Universal Credit you get. This includes any savings in your Help to Save account. Your Help to Save bonuses will not affect your Universal Credit payments.
- Working Tax Credit – any savings or bonuses you earn through Help to Save will not affect how much Working Tax Credit you get.
- Housing Benefit – if you or your partner have £6,000 or less in personal savings this will not affect how much Housing Benefit you get. This includes any savings in your Help to Save account. Your Help to Save bonuses will not affect your Housing Benefit payments.
How can I apply for the Help to Save Scheme?
You need a Government Gateway user ID and password to apply. If you do not have a user ID, you can create one when you apply. You’ll be asked to provide your UK bank details when you apply. For more information on applying for the Help to Save Scheme click here.
If you don’t use mains gas for heating (Alternative Fuel Payment scheme)
From 6th February 2023, households across Great Britain who don’t use mains gas for heating will start receiving £200 towards their energy bills as the Alternative Fuel Payment (AFP) scheme launches.
Most will get the £200 AFP automatically as credit on their electricity bill, but a small minority of customers, such as those living in park homes or on static houseboats with no direct energy supplier, will need to apply to receive the payment through an online portal that will launch later this month. The portal is yet to go live, but keep an eye on the government website.
Businesses using alternative fuels will also start receiving £150 credit on bills, with payments expected to be delivered by 10th March 2023 through the Non-Domestic Alternative Fuel Payment scheme (ND-AFP). There is no need to contact your supplier for this payment.
Other ways to find extra income
- Whether you currently pay child maintenance or you should be receiving it, this Child Maintenance calculator will help you to work out how much you should be paying or receiving. Please note you won’t have anything to pay through the Child Maintenance Service if you’re sharing care equally with the other parent, are a full-time student with no income or if you’re in prison. Before you start using the calculator, you’ll need the income (including State Pension and benefits) of the parent who’ll be paying as well as the number of nights the child(ren) stay with them.
- If a non-dependant person is living with you, have you considered asking them to contribute to your household bills? It’s important to double-check what this would mean for your benefits payments though, to make sure you’re not losing out on anything. Find out by heading over to Entitled To’s website.
- Ask your employer for a pay rise.
- Consider looking for jobs closer to home or that pay better than your current role.
- If you’ve got a skill to share, such as playing a musical instrument, take a look into mentoring opportunities around you.
- Use your free time to start a second job.
- Share living costs in your home by renting a room.
- Take part in market research.
- Check with your employers if you can sell annual leave back in return for working the days instead.
Coupons, cashback and apps
- ‘Biscuit‘ is a walking-based mobile rewards app that allows you to earn points, known as ‘biscuits’, which you can trade for vouchers at restaurants, supermarkets, pet stores and entertainment places.
- ‘TooGoodToGo‘ allows you to take advantage of items approaching their sell-by date at a discounted price.
- ‘Olio‘ is a mobile app for sharing by giving away, borrowing, getting or lending things in your community for free, aiming to reduce household and food waste.
Have a clear out!
Often people have lots of items hanging about their homes which they could be exchanging for some extra income. This is also a great way to protect the environment and reduce waste.
We’ve included some examples below to help you get started.
The following websites will accept many books, video games and console accessories, DVDs and CDs and exchange them for cash. Please note we are in no way affiliated with these external websites, so make sure you double-check whether there are any associated delivery fees and that you understand what rights you have if something goes wrong.
Have you got toys which are no longer needed?
Have your children grown out of lego? If so, get in touch with Music Magpie as they buy this by the kilo/half kilo.
Think about recycling ink cartridges
Not only will you be helping to protect the environment if you dispose of your old printer cartridges in a sustainable way, you can also receive cash for doing so. Check out Cash For Cartridges, Infotone or Recycle Ink Cartridges for more information on how you can make money from old printer cartridges.
Sell your old clothing
Have a look in your local area to see if there are any shops that offer to swap your clothes for cash. Providing they’re in good condition, there are many places out there that pay per kilo.
If you have a wedding dress which you’re willing to part with, you could also trade this in for cash. Find out more about selling your wedding dress here.
Utilise all the space that’s available to you
Do you live near a city centre or close to an airport? If so, have you considered renting out your parking space?
Car boot sales/garage sales
It’s a tried and tested method which has been used by many people over the years. Find out where your nearest car boot sale is and set up a stall to see what you can shift – if you have a garage or driveway, consider doing it from the comfort of your own home instead.
Sell for free on Facebook
Facebook Marketplace allows you to list and sell items free-of-charge and helps you find buyers in your local area.
Personalised job support
You can get personalised support, tips and advice to find your next opportunity through JobHelp.
Get help looking for jobs
You can search and apply for jobs across a range of industries across the UK here.
If you work in healthcare, the Armed Forces, or the emergency services
Blue Light Card
A Blue Light Card costs £4.99 for two years and you’ll need your work ID or a recent payslip to prove you’re eligible. It offers discounts at over 15,000 high street and online stores and covers lots of areas including insurance, phones, cars, and days out. Apply for your Blue Light Card here.
Defence Privilege Card
The Defence Discount Service provides discounts both online and on the high street for members of the Armed Forces, Veterans and Armed Forces Community. It’s the home of the Defence Privilege Card, which is a vetted discount card that can be used in stores, restaurants, and venues to obtain discounts. Find out more about the Defence Discount Service and the Defence Privilege Card here.
Websites and apps to help you earn real cash or cashback
Some of you already may have certain apps that help you save money, provide you with cashback and reduce your airtime costs and, if so, that’s great! If you aren’t aware, here’s some handy sites:
- TopCashBack – When you make a purchase from a retailer featured on TopCashback after clicking through from their site, the retailer will give TopCashBack commission for sending you to their website. They then share this commission with you when you earn money, which is called ‘cashback’ and is actually paid by the retailer.
- We Are 8 – We Are 8 asks you to watch a 20 second promotional advert and then answer three simple questions with your feedback and in return you can build up your wallet.
- Airtime Rewards – You can earn rewards with Boots, Greggs, Wilko, New Look, Papa Johns, Halfords and others by using the app
- Quidco – Every time you shop any of the brands on Quidco, they reward you a slice of commission as cashback
- Foap – This is an app that allows you to make money by taking photos! You can charge as much as you like per photo, which means that your money-making opportunities through Foap are virtually limitless.
- Zipzero – For every receipt that you take a picture of, you’ll get 0.5% cashback into your account. This can be receipts from anything that you’ve bought, including restaurants, high and street stores. Once you’ve earned minimum of £5, you can then redeem this off a number of bills including electricity, gas, TV phone, internet and council tax.
- GreenJinn – GreenJinn offers a list of offers each week for cashback on healthy food items in the supermarket, you can choose which supermarket you’re going to, which will then load up the relevant offers for that supermarket.
How to make your money last until your next payday…
Sometimes it feels like there’s more month left at the end of the money, than money left at the end of the month.
Here are our top tips on making your income last:
- Create a budget to see what money you have coming in and going out.
- Set yourself a daily spending allowance. It’s ok to treat yourself, but make sure if you overspend one day you take it off another day!
- Start a diary to track your spending, you might notice patterns in your spending that you can change.
- Take advantage of cashback offers or loyalty cards.
- Shop around – look at online deals and see where you can make savings.
- Set yourself a 24-hour rule for impulse buys. You’ll be surprised how much you can save!
- Start meal planning and prepping in advance, it’s much easier to talk yourself out of a takeaway when you’ve got a healthy alternative ready to go in the freezer.
Speak to PayPlan and get free debt advice
Remember, if you’re struggling with debt, PayPlan’s here to help you get on top of your finances. Speak to PayPlan today to get started.