People claiming certain benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may be eligible for a Budgeting Loan to help pay for essential products or services which they would otherwise be unable to afford due to their current circumstances.
People who have been claiming Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit for at least six months may be eligible for the loan, which is repaid through their benefits.
Budgeting Loans are not available to those claiming Universal Credit, however, they may be eligible for a Budgeting Allowance. If someone has moved from Universal Credit to Pension Credit, the DWP will add the time they were getting Universal Credit to the six months.
New easy-read online guidance, which could potentially help more people access the service, has now been released and simplifies the process including eligibility, what it can be used for and how it is paid back to the DWP.
What is a Budgeting Loan?
A Budgeting Loan is money people who have been claiming the benefits mentioned earlier for at least six months can apply for from the DWP.
It is important to be aware that because it is a loan, the money must be paid back and is done so through benefit payments.
Who cannot apply for a Budgeting Loan?
People claiming these benefits cannot apply:
- New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance
- New Style Employment and Support Allowance
If you have a job and are currently involved in a trade dispute, you cannot get a Budgeting Loan.
If you owe more than £1,500 from another Budgeting Loan or Crisis Loan, you cannot get a new Budgeting Loan.
What can a Budgeting Loan be used for?
The loan is to help pay for essential things or services.
This might include:
- Furniture in your home
- Household white goods such as a washing machine, cooker, hoover or fridge
- Clothing or footwear
- Rent you have to pay in advance
- Any moving house costs such as a removal van
- Essential work needed on your home, including maintenance
- Security for your home, such as new keys or locks
- Some travelling costs in the UK
- Things that will help you get a new job, such as a suit for interviews or taxi fares to get to an interview
- Costs due to pregnancy and childbirth
- Costs for a funeral
How much you could get
The lowest amount you can borrow is £100.
You could get up to:
- £348 if you’re single
- £464 if you have a partner
- £812 if you or your partner claim Child Benefit
How much you could get depends on whether you:
- Can pay the loan back
- Have savings of more than £1,000 (£2,000 if you or your partner are 63 or over)
- Are paying back an existing Budgeting Loan or Crisis Loan
Paying the Budgeting Loan back
The money is paid back in full to the DWP at 0% interest within two years.
When the DWP pays your benefit, it will take an amount off to help pay your loan off.
The amount taken depends on your total income, which includes any benefits you get and what you can afford.
If you stop getting benefits, the rest of your Budgeting Loan must still be repaid.
If you can get a loan, the DWP will also tell you how much your weekly repayments will be from your benefits and if you accept, your weekly repayments from your benefit will start straight away.
How to apply
You can apply for a Budgeting Loan online or by post, however, the DWP guidance states: “You will get a quicker decision on your Budgeting Loan by applying online.”
What happens after an application is made?
The DWP will either send you an email, text or letter letting you know whether or not you can get a Budgeting Loan – you must request which method of notification when you apply.
But it’s worth noting if you requested a decision by email or text message, you will get this within seven days.
If you asked for a decision by letter, it will be sent within 21 days.
How to accept a loan
If you can get a Budgeting Loan, you need to ‘accept’ the decision before you get the money.
How you ‘accept’ your decision depends on how you applied:
- If you applied online, you will get a text message or email telling you what to do
- If you applied by post, you can accept the decision by letter
Once you have accepted the offer
Once you have accepted the loan offer, the DWP will pay your money into your account, but when you get your money depends on how you accepted your loan offer.
- accepted the loan offer online, you will get your money within seven days
- accepted the loan offer by post, you will get your money within 21 days
If you gave the DWP your mobile phone number, they will send you a text message when they pay the money into your account.
To find out more about applying for a Budgeting Loan by post or how to appeal a decision, visit the GOV.UK website here.