Now that living costs are rising in the UK, many families around the country are being driven to crisis point. The situation is especially serious for those who were already struggling to make ends meet, so it’s understandable if you’re now wondering what additional financial support is out there.
In this article we’ll examine government crisis loans, how you apply for a government crisis loan online, and look at other emergency loans and one off payments that may help you improve your finances.
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What are government crisis loans?
A government crisis loan was an interest free loan offered to individuals in need on behalf of the UK government.
Crisis loans were emergency payments designed to support people in an unexpected state of financial distress, for example if a person’s benefits have been stopped and they now have no access to income for food or housing costs.
The government is no longer offering crisis loans. Instead, they now offer ‘social fund budgeting loans‘ – a similar type of loan that’s designed to cover sudden, unexpected costs.
It’s important to note that, as a loan, any money you receive as part of your social budgeting loan will eventually need to be paid back, usually within 104 weeks. Money will typically be taken automatically from your benefit payments, so you won’t need to negotiate a payment plan.
Do I qualify for a social fund budgeting loan?
Budgeting loans are only available to people who are already claiming certain qualifying benefits from the UK Government.
Benefits that qualify you for a social fund budgeting loan include:
- Pension credit
- Income support
- Income-related employment and support allowance
- Income based jobseeker’s allowance
In order to qualify for emergency funds via a budgeting loan, you or a partner must have been receiving one of the above qualifying benefits for a period of at least six months, or 26 weeks, prior to your application.
If you or your partner have more than £1,000 in savings up to the age of 62, or more than £2,000 in savings at ages 63 and above, then you will not qualify for a budgeting loan.
How do I apply for a budgeting loan online?
If you meet the criteria to qualify, there are multiple ways you can apply for a budgeting loan.
The quickest and easiest way to apply for a budgeting loan is via the UK Government website. Just visit the budgeting loans application page, follow the steps, and choose whether you would like to receive a decision on your loan via text message, email, or letter.
Written application form
If you have internet access but would prefer not to apply online, you can download and print off a paper application form from the budgeting loans application page, fill in your personal or financial information, and return your completed form to the address at the top of the application.
If you don’t have internet access and can’t apply online, you can request a paper form known as an SF500 by using the social fund enquiry line on 0800 169 0140.
Social fund enquiry line
For all enquiries regarding your budgeting loan application, the social fund enquiry line is open Monday to Friday 8am-5pm. As mentioned above, the number is 0800 169 0140.
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It was literally the best decision of my life, and it has actually changed my life, cheesy as that sounds, it has changed my life.
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What other forms of financial support are available from the Government?
If you’re on low income or universal credit and you’re finding it difficult to pay for food, housing, or other essential living costs, there may be other schemes available to help you cope in the short term.
Discretionary housing payment
If you’re already on housing benefit or universal credit but find that your benefit payments aren’t enough to cover your housing costs, you may be able to get a discretionary housing payment to help tide you over.
Unlike universal credit or the personal independence payment, discretionary housing benefits are overseen by the local authority, so you will need to contact your local council to find out more. You can find your local council online by following this link.
Short term benefit advance
If you make a regular benefit claim but are in the situation where you need money quickly, it’s possible to borrow money from future payments.
A short term benefit advance allows you to cover immediate costs, while receiving less money later. If you’re interested in having your benefits paid early, you can usually apply for an advance through your local Jobcentre Plus.
Hardship payments are emergency payments that help people on low income cover essential costs if their universal credit or other benefits have been cut due to sanctions.
If you have been sanctioned by the Department for Work and Pensions and fear you may struggle to get by in the meantime, you can ask about hardship payments via your local Jobcentre Plus, or by calling the universal credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.
Could debt solutions help me deal with financial difficulty?
Depending on your circumstances, there are certain benefits to using a debt solution like an IVA to improve your financial situation.
Debt solutions like IVAs and Debt Management Plans allow you to repay your unsecured debts at a rate you can afford, and could even help you write off the debts you can’t afford to repay, all while offering you legal protection from your creditors.
That said, if you find yourself in an immediate financial emergency where you are left with no income to cover your essential costs, you should contact Citizens Advice, your local authority, or the UK Government and request financial support as quickly as possible.
Where can I get advice on managing debt and my living costs?
Whether you’re a person on low income who is struggling to make ends meet, or you owe money to multiple creditors that you can’t afford to repay, all of us need financial help at one point in our lives.
At Your Debt Expert, we employ a team of financial experts and debt specialists to help people like you get the advice they need to turn their financial situation around.
For free advice and guidance on debt, benefits, and how you can rebuild your finances, talk to one of our friendly advisers today – just call 0800 082 8086.
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