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Problems with Universal Credit? Where to go for help

Jasmine Birtles 9th Aug 2022 2 Comments

Reading Time: 6 minutes

A lot of people are having problems with Universal Credit. For many, it’s simply not having enough money to live on. For others, it’s not knowing how to negotiate the forms.

I have been talking on TV about how the system needs to radically change and others have said the same (including John Major, Gordon Brown and the head of mental health charity Mind). However, while it is still running, here are some things you can do to get help.


The system surrounding universal credit needs to drastically change.

Me on This Morning talking about Universal Credit


Universal Credit not sufficient? where to get more money

if you are waiting a long time for your first universal credit payment

You can apply for an ‘advance payment’ on your Universal Credit if you think you can’t manage while you’re waiting for your first payment. Frankly, most people struggle to cope for the minimum of five weeks that you have to wait for that payment, so you’re not alone. It can often take even longer than that to come through.

Citizen’s Advice has some helpful information on advance payments and how to apply. Weirdly, they give you one month minus three days to apply for an advance payment. This advance payment is a loan so you will have to pay it back, although you won’t have to pay interest on it and you can do it over 12 months.


if you can’t cope on the money you are getting

Many charities provide financial help to people who are struggling to live on Universal Credit.

There are quite a lot of charities that exist specifically to give financial help to people who are struggling.

Visit Turn2Us to find hundreds of grant-making bodies. The charity itself has its own funds to give away too.

You can also search their list of grant-making bodies. There are charities that are specific to particular professions, so you might get some money from them if you or a member of your family are in that profession. Then, there are local charitable organisations and charities that just give money if you are in particular circumstances, like living with a disability.

It’s possible that you could apply for a few different grants. Remember, these grants are essentially free money – you don’t have to give the cash back!

Turn2Us also has a benefits calculator to see if you could be eligible for other help such as reduced Council Tax.

watch out for high-cost loans

If you need furniture or other items desperately, but you have no money, try to keep away from the high-cost lenders if possible (easy to say, I know!). Try these instead:


Fair for you

A better place to go is Fair For You (I’m a patron of the charity behind it) which offers fair loans for household goods like washing machines and children’s beds.

Their rates are decent (about 40%) and they are flexible so you can overpay or even underpay if you need to.


your local credit union

Also look for your local credit union and join that. Credit unions will give small loans at reasonable and flexible rates so it’s very helpful to be a member of one.

The only drawback is that you usually need to be saving with them first. However, different credit unions operate with different rules so see what your local one says.


who can help with universal credit forms

Your local Council or Job Centre can tell you where to get help with completing Universal Credit forms.

Don’t feel stupid if you’re having difficulty filling in the forms for Universal Credit. Everyone finds them difficult. I think it’s just the civil servants who put them together who know how to fill them in!

Thankfully, you can get help filling them in and you can get answers to questions too.


Your local help centre

The bad news used to be that the help was all over place. Different organisations were giving it depending on where you lived.

In some areas it was your local Job Centre, elsewhere it was Citizen’s Advice or it could’ve been one of many small charities that had been funded to help.


Citizen’s Advice

However, as of April 2019, Citizen’s Advice began offering all of the support work across the country. So at least now you know that there is one place to go to.

But if you’re still unsure, find out from your local council or job centre where you should go for help.



There’s a lot of advice online about how to apply for Universal Credit, where to go for help, answers to a lot of questions (though not all). Here are some useful sites to visit:


where to get free food

If you are struggling to feed the family on Universal Credit, you can get free food from food banks.

food banks

You can get free food from food banks, but bear in mind:

  • You have to be referred to a food bank either by someone at the Job Centre, Citizen’s Advice, a local charity or one of many other agencies that deal with food banks. Basically, you can’t just turn up
  • You can only use a food bank three times a year. They won’t turn you away if you come more often, but this will flag up to them that there is a deeper problem and they will look into ways to resolve it.
  • Food banks will give you food for three days. The idea is to tide you and your family over until proper money starts to come in.

Do also have a look at our article on where to get free food.

There’s also a ‘Community Fridges’ scheme opening up in various parts of the UK where local people leave food they don’t need for others to take. It’s a great idea and worth getting in touch with the organisers to see if there’s one near you. If there isn’t, see if you can be part of installing one in your area.


how you can make changes to universal credit

If you think that the whole system is wrong and needs to be changed from the top, contact your local MP and put pressure on them.

The more MPs that are contacted by local voters, the more they will put pressure on the DWP and the Treasury to improve things.


make easy fivers to supplement your income

You can make free fivers with us to supplement your Universal Credit income.

Now I would say this, but seriously if you want to get free £5 Amazon vouchers to spend on anything you like, our Magpie Money club is the quickest and easiest way to do it.

And it’s totally free! Simply, join up for free.

Once you’ve joined, you just have to make 750 Magpies to get a free fiver. You can do it by:

  • Visiting the site each day – yes, it’s that easy.
  • Commenting – put some comments on articles and you’ll get even more Magpies to reach your goal quickly.
  • Sign up for surveys – you get Magpies just for signing up and when you do a survey, you get even more (these are in the hundreds so you will get to that fiver really quickly as well as making some extra from the survey itself).

We think it’s a no-brainer. Just click, comment, download and sign-up to make a bunch of money for nothing and watch your Universal Credit problems disappear!

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Garfield Hunte
Garfield Hunte
1 year ago

Yeah Joanne I been on it for under a year its a nightmare!

5 years ago

Universal credit does seem to have caused some serious problems for some claimants.

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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