Budgeting Advance and Universal Credit: Two great tools for UK citizens to deal with Coronavirus

Currently, the main point of attraction for the whole world has come to a single scary point; the Coronavirus epidemic.

Each and every day, it is spreading like a forest fire and as result, we are seeing cities are being locked down, transportation has been stopped, roads, offices, parks are empty and a gradually increasing fear is covering our consciousness. As almost all works have been stopped, many people especially people from the middle class and lower-middle-class are facing difficulty managing their day’s bread and butter because of financial constraints. And the scenario is even worse for those who have been affected by Coronavirus.

However, the recent declaration by DWP can provide a bit of relief and help UK citizens deal with Coronavirus pandemic in a better way. As per the declaration, The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) tells that people who are diagnosed with Coronavirus are fully eligible for Universal Credit claim and Budgeting Advance apply and to fight with this unexpected pandemic, they can avail an advance payment for one month upfront. To maintain hygiene and social distancing, claimants can also access and operate their funds online without visiting a Jobcentre physically.

In general, it may take up to 5 weeks to get your first Universal Credit claim encashed, but as per the need of the current situation, if you think waiting for that much would be difficult, you can straightaway opt for an advance payment facility which DWP recently announced.

To get an updated and detailed view on Budgeting Advance to apply and Universal Credit claim, keep reading this post till the end.

A short intro to Budgeting Advance

In general, Budgeting Advance is a facility introduced by the UK government to assist people to pay for certain essentials or emergency bills in need. Moreover, this type of loan is completely interest-free and you can repay it in installments through normal Universal Credit payments. With time, your payments will be lower until you reimburse it in full. And if your Universal Credit benefits are stopped, you can pay it back through some other payment method as well. However, there are some limits in borrowing money through Budgeting Advance which you need to know before applying. The minimum amount you can avail through Budgeting Advance is £100, and the maximum amount varies as per your social and marital status. If you are single and unmarried, you can avail up to £348. If you are a couple, you can get up to £464, and if you have children, this amount turns to £812.

Claiming benefits and Coronavirus

Because of the recent COVID-19 epidemic, if you are unable to go to work and if you are entitled to statutory sick pay, you will receive it from the 1st  day instead of 4th day of your sickness. This change is valid from 13 March 2020. The statutory sick pay will only be allocated if you have diagnosed with Coronavirus or self-isolated yourself as per government recommendation. If you are a gig worker such as an independent contractor, on-call worker, temporary worker who works for an on-demand basis and currently living with a zero-hour contract, you can avail of the sick-pay benefits. However, if you are ineligible for sick pay benefits and have an urgent requirement of money, you can alternatively lodge an application for Universal Credit claim. Adding to this, if you are self-quarantined and restricted from work due to lockdown and public health issues, you can still apply for your benefits through Budgeting Advance and Universal Credit.

If you are already getting benefits

If currently, you are getting benefits of Budgeting advance and Universal Credit, you do not need to be present at Jobcentre appointments for the upcoming 3 months and this is valid from 19th March 2020. This will not affect your ongoing benefits and you do not have to even contact DWP for this. All your benefit related information will be readily available online and you can check your account and do your regular activities as well from there. Though the Universal credit telephone lines are open and working normally, Due to staff shortage and a busy schedule, DWP suggests not to contact via call unless you are unable to access your account online.

Changes on amount

The standard allowance for Universal Credit has been raised by £20 per week. That means if you are single (aged more than 25) and applying for Universal Credit claim, you will avail £409.89 per month instead of £317.82.

Changes as per health considerations

To avoid any form of physical contact due to the Coronavirus outbreak, DWP has terminated all kinds of face-to-face tests and assessments for health and disability-related benefits. The main intention behind this is to ensure that individual applicants for disability and health benefits stay safe and secured. For any assessment that has been already arranged, the assessment provider will contact you and guide you for the next steps.