There can be a number of reasons why you have no income.
It could be that you are waiting for you benefits to be assessed and have run out of money before you have been paid
Or perhaps your benefits have been refused and you are waiting for an appeal to be heard
Or perhaps you have been sanctioned.
Waiting for benefit payments
If you are waiting for a benefit such as Job Seeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support and you run out of money because it is not paid quickly enough or because a change in your circumstances mean that you need more money, you may be able to get a short-term advance payment. Asking for a short-term advance is a much better option than taking out expensive credit like a payday loan. Short-term advances are available for most benefits except
- Housing Benefit (see below for how to get your Housing Benefit speeded up),
- Council Tax Support
- Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Child Benefit and Guardian’s allowance (see below)
- Universal Credit has separate rules (see below)
How to get a short-term advance?
In order to get a short-term advance you need to have claimed the benefit and be waiting for a payment or waiting for an increase in your weekly award.
You should ask the office concerned to pay you a short-term advance. Often the DWP will simply speed up the processing of your award or your increased award and pay that rather than the advance. If they do pay the advance this will recovered by reducing the rate of your ongoing benefit until it has been paid back. If you are refused a short-term advance you do not have a right to appeal but you should seek advice.
Housing Benefit advances
Housing Benefit do not have a system for paying short-term advances but if you are a private or housing association tenant you can ask for a payment on account (also called an interim payment). This should be considered automatically if you have waited for more than 14 days since making your claim. However if this does not happen contact the local authority and ask them to pay you a payment on account. The local authority can only refuse you a payment on account if they know you will not be entitled to Housing Benefit or if the delay in payment has been caused by you not providing the evidence they have asked for. If you have problems with getting a payment on account, you should seek advice.
Child Benefit and Guardians Allowance advances
If payments of either Child Benefit or Guardians Allowance have been delayed you can ask HMRC for an interim payment. They should pay as long as they accept you are likely to be entitled to the benefit. They will either deduct the amount they pay you from a later award or they can recover it as an overpayment if you get more than you are entitled to.
If you are waiting for an award of Universal Credit you usually have to wait at least 6 weeks before you get your first payment. During this period you can ask for a short-term advance. You can also ask for a short-term advance if you expect your payments to go up because your situation has changed (eg if you have a new baby or your rent goes up). If you are making a new claim you have to ask for your short-term advance within the first month. If you claim after this you will be refused. The sum you are paid will be recovered by deducting an amount from your normal payments when these are made.
Budgeting loans are available to people who get:
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Income based Job Seekers Allowance
- Or Pension Credit
You (or your partner) need to have had one of these benefits for at least 26 weeks. You cannot get a budgeting loan if you have had your benefit sanctioned.
You can apply for the loan on Form SF 500 which you can get from your local Jobcentre plus office or online on form SF 500. You will need to identify items you need help with. You will be expected to repay any loan you get by deductions form your weekly benefit.
Community Support grants and Local Welfare Provision
Your local authority will operate a local welfare scheme for people who need help with items such as heating or food bills or other emergencies. More information about the local schemes in Birmingham and Coventry can be found here.
If you have no money because you have been sanctioned you may be eligible for a hardship payment, more information about this is available in the article Have you had your benefit sanctioned?.
What else can you do?
If you have tried all of these options and still need more help then you should contact a welfare benefit advisor who can explore what more can be done. If you feel the problems are being caused by debts then you should contact a money advisor.