If you live in the UK and are currently receiving benefits, you may find that the monthly allotment is not always enough to help cover all of your expenses. The good news is that the UK government and social organisations throughout the country offer additional services to help cover some additional costs. These additional options can help you spread your benefits out and make it easier to get through the month. Some benefits offered are grants or gifts and do not need to be paid back. Others are loans, but allow you to pay back a little at a time with typically lower interest rates.
Be wary of high risk loans
Many people who are on a low income feel that payday or short-term loans are the only options available to them when it comes to borrowing. Depending on your circumstances there are many other financial options available including grants, benefits and non-profit low interest loans. Whilst short-term loans to have their place, they generally come with a high cost to obtain a small some of money. With any loan you consider taking out, make sure you completely understand the terms and the costs associated with them.
Prior to applying for a loan, be sure to review all terms and fees carefully. Below are additional tasks you should assess to keep yourself from entering a bad loan.
– Check review and complaint sites of the lender
– Use a comparison site to compare similar loans, but do keep in mind comparison sites due not represent the full market. They just provide details of those lenders advertising with them.
– Check that the lender you are consider is properly licensed.
The above items should only take you a few minutes and can help you avoid partnering with a bad lender and put yourself in a worst position.
* Popular Loan types – See loan and benefit options for specific circumstances here.
Below is a look at some of the main loans for people on benefits offered in the UK
My Home Finance – These types of loans are operated through the National Housing Federation, and have been providing loans to families on benefits since 2010. These loans can be used for any purpose and typically go as high as £500. You will be required to make weekly repayments that are based on the amount of money borrowed, the time frame for which you are paying the loan back in, and your specific interest rates. The interests for these loans can run as high as 29.9%, but is still substantially lower than many of the payday loans available. You are required to have a bank account or they will help you set one up through the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Budgeting Loans – If you have been receiving benefits for at least 26 weeks, you may be eligible for a budgeting loan. This is a no-interest loan that can be repaid over the course of 104 weeks. You must borrow at least £100, and cannot owe the Social Fund more than £1,500. The loan must be used to cover essentials, such as rent, furniture, and clothing, work related expense, or maternity needs.
Budgeting Advance – If you are on Universal Credit, you may be able to get an advance payment which allows you to access cash for important living expenses. Examples include bills that are higher than usual, white goods such as a stove or fridge, home repairs and job expenses etc. As this is an advance on future Universal Credit payments, your future payments will be reduced until the advance is paid in full. It is important budget accordingly so you don’t put yourself in a worst position. For those collecting benefits and need a loan, this is a quick and cheaper alternative to payday lending.
- Single person with no dependents may receive between £100 to £348
- Couples with no dependents may receive between £100 to £464
- Families or people with dependents may receive between £100 to £812
Local Council Support Schemes – This scheme provided through your local authority is responsible in helping locals experiencing everyday living emergencies such as; individual or family health issues, ability to provide food, avoiding eviction and other serious living matters.
Local Credit Union – If you don’t qualify for a budgeting loan or other government funded grants or benefits, a credit union may be an alternative. Many have loan products that are offered as alternatives to high cost payday loans. If you sole income is derived from benefits, it may be difficult to qualify for a loan. Contact your local credit union to discuss options.
Government Grants – There are numerous government grants to assist with everyday living costs and emergencies. In addition to the above assistance and loan options for people on benefits, here is a list of important government grants – Job Seeker’s Allowance, Utility assistance for electricity, water and phone, Family grants, Tax credits and more. Visit Turn2us for a detailed list of grants.
Disabled Facilities Grant – If you need a loan to help make your home more accessible, a facilities grant from your local authority is an option. It is means tested unless it’s for a child under the age of 17. As this is a grant, you do not have to pay the money back.
Local Welfare Scheme – If you are collecting benefits and looking for a loan to help with utility bills or food, there are better options. This scheme helps protect young adults and children who are in disadvantaged circumstances.
Micro Loans – These types of short-term loans are often considered by many as they have flexible lending criteria for low income earners and even those with bad credit. Many Brits on benefits consider these types of loans. While they are convenient and generally easier to get, they do come at a high cost.
The above are just some of the more popular financial assistance or loan options for people on benefits. These are genuine services which have been created to help lower income earners and those on welfare.
In addition, you may be eligible for subsidies based on your financial situation. This can allow you to access new or more benefits if you are already collecting them. Visit our benefits calculator section to quickly identify any additional entitlements you may qualify for.
Applying for a loan while on benefits – Approval criteria
The eligibility of a loan while on benefits is the same as general loan. The main difference is how your monthly income is derived, what percentage is benefits versus non-benefits.
– Age (must be over 18)
– Residence (citizen or British resident)
– Minimum income amount (varies by lender or agency)
– Affordability checks (strict for those on benefits)
– Credit history
– Length of employment
– Length of residency
– Loan purpose
– Current debt
The above are the main points that a lender will look at when considering lending money.
Important considerations before applying for a loan
– Do you really need the loan: Taking out a loan to pay off bills can be a very dangerous proposition. Likewise, taking out a loan to purchase a depreciating item can land you in a lot of debt. If you are thinking of taking out a loan for either situation, you may want to rethink your plan. This type of borrowing is a fast track to bad debt and potential financial issues.
– Can you afford the loan: Just because a lender is willing to offer you money, doesn’t mean you can afford it. Prior to any type of borrowing you must carefully review your finances and make sure you can afford the cost of borrowing along with making the repayments.
– Are there other ways to obtain money: No body likes going into debt and taking out a loan is doing just that. Explore other money options first.
It is important to be very mindful of who you are getting help from when looking for financial assistance. Always make informed decisions and stay away from lenders that pressure you into doing business with them. Lastly, avoid making quick decisions on serious matters especially if you are under duress or enormous pressure, you may end up putting yourself in a worst off position.