Coronavirus: Universal Credit and other benefits

Help with debt and managing money

If you are in financial difficulty, then support may be available. If you are receiving Universal Credit, there is additional support which can help you to manage your money.

If you need independent advice, the MoneyHelper service can offer you free and confidential money guidance, and can also help you find support services in your local area.


Universal Credit

Alternative payment arrangements:

If you are on Universal Credit and are having trouble managing your money, you may be able to get an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA). An APA changes the way that Universal Credit is paid. This could include:

  • Splitting your payment so you receive it twice a month instead of once
  • Having the housing element of Universal Credit paid directly to your landlord
  • Or sharing the payment equally across 2 bank accounts.

An APA is designed to support you if you are unable to manage with monthly payments. If you think that an APA would be helpful, speak to your work coach to find out more.

Support paying your mortgage:

If you’re on Universal Credit and are finding it difficult to pay your mortgage, you may be able to benefit from the Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) Scheme.

SMI could help you to pay the interest on up to £200,000 of your mortgage. This will usually be paid directly to your loan or mortgage provider, and can help you stay in your home while you find work.

Your first SMI payment will be paid 9 months after you claim it. SMI is a loan and you will need to repay the money with interest added when you sell or transfer ownership of your property. If you want to repay the loan quicker, you are able to do this by making voluntary repayments. Find out more about SMI here

If you’re struggling to pay the mortgage, MoneyHelper’s guide to problems paying your mortgage can also offer useful advice.

Claiming other benefits or financial support

Depending on your circumstances you may be able to receive additional financial support along with, or instead of Universal Credit. There are several tools to help you understand your eligibility for support.

Benefits Checker

Our Benefits Checker can help you get a quick understanding of the financial support available to you.

The tool takes less than 5 minutes to use and can give you a quick overview of your likely entitlement to financial support.

Benefits Calculator

A benefits calculator is a more detailed tool that can help you identify all the financial support that may be available to you.

This could include benefits such as Universal Credit, as well as additional financial support such as:

Use a benefits calculator to find out if you are getting all the financial support that you could be entitled to.

Debt Support and Money Advice

The Debt Respite Scheme

If you are struggling with debt, the Debt Respite (Breathing Space) Scheme may be able to help. It is a government initiative which provides citizens who have problem debt with legal protection from their creditors; and offers support to help you take control of your finances.

The Debt Respite Scheme provides a breathing space period of 60 days where you are legally protected from action by your creditors (businesses you owe money to). This 60-day period enables you to access specialist debt advice and develop an appropriate solution to deal with your debt.

If you are receiving treatment for a mental health crisis, then you may be able to get a longer breathing space, which will last for the duration of your treatment for this condition plus an extra 30 days. It can also provide stronger protections from your creditors than a regular breathing space period.

The Breathing Space scheme can only be accessed through a debt advice provider that is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can find an FCA authorised debt advisor using MoneyHelper’s Debt Advice Locator tool.

If you owe money to DWP or Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT), these debts may not be covered by the Breathing Space scheme, for example the repayment of a Universal Credit advance. A debt advisor will be able to explain this to you and support you.

Money Advice

MoneyHelper offers a range of different tools which can support you in lots of different ways.

Debt Advice Locator

The Debt Advice Locator tool can help you find free debt advice online, over the phone or in your local area.

All of the services are free, confidential and hold a standard or membership code accredited by MoneyHelper.

Money Manager tool

The Money Manager tool is designed for people on Universal Credit. You can use it whether you’re making a new claim or moving to Universal Credit from existing benefits.

All the information and advice in Money Manager comes from MoneyHelper’s expert team. This can help you:

  • Get help and support based on your personal circumstances
  • Budget for a single monthly payment
  • Find out which bank accounts are best for managing your payment
  • Get money saving tips to cut the cost of your household bills
  • Find out what to do and where to get help if you’re struggling.

Money Navigator 

If coronavirus has negatively impacted your financial situation, you can get instant help from the Money Navigator tool from MoneyHelper.

The Money Navigator tool helps you understand what support you could get based on your own circumstances, and can help if:

  • Your income has gone down and you’re worried about your future finances
  • You’ve been furloughed and need help to get back on track, including after a payment holiday
  • You’re facing redundancy or have lost your job
  • You’re self-employed and not earning as much as normal

The tool gives you action plans based on your own situation so you’ll know in 30 seconds:

  • The money issues to tackle first
  • How to stay on top of bills and payments
  • What extra help and support you’re entitled to
  • Where you can get free advice for debt, housing or redundancy

Budget planner

The free Budget Planner puts you in control of your household spending and analyses your results to help you take control of your money. It’s already helped hundreds of thousands of people understand how they spend their money and take better control of their finances.