We aim to make our website as accessible as possible. However if you use a screen reader and require debt advice you may find it easier to phone us instead. Our phone number is 0 8 0 0 1 3 8 1 1 1 1. Freephone (including all mobiles).
worried woman reading paperwork

Worried you can't pay the bills?

Free, online advice available now

Get help now

i The help listed on this page is only available in the UK

Hardship payments

If your Universal Credit or benefits have been sanctioned and you’re struggling to pay for essentials, you may be able to apply for a hardship payment.

If you urgently need money, read more about getting emergency help with money and food.

What is a hardship payment?

You can apply for a hardship payment if you or your family don't have enough money for essential bills due to a benefits sanction.

Hardship payments apply to the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

What is a sanction?

When you apply for Universal Credit, JSA or ESA, your Jobcentre work coach will agree a set of responsibilities with you. This might include applying for work or attending training courses.

If you don't meet these responsibilities, your benefits can be reduced or stopped. This is called a sanction.

Being late, missing interviews or missing appointments at the Jobcentre Plus may mean your benefit is reduced.

Will I have to pay the money back?

Hardship payments are a loan not a grant, so you’ll need to pay the money back.

The repayments are taken from your benefits. This will mean the benefit you receive will be lower until the hardship payment loan is repaid.

How do I claim a hardship payment?

To claim a hardship payment, you need to:

  • be age 18 or older,
  • show you’ve tried to get money from elsewhere, for example from friends or family, and
  • show you’ve only been spending money on essentials.

Claiming if you are on Universal Credit

If you’re on Universal Credit, you can contact the Universal Credit helpline to apply.

Claiming if you are on JSA or ESA

If you are on JSA or ESA, you can call Jobcentre Plus or ask at your local Jobcentre Plus.

signpost icon

Make sure you’re not missing out on all the benefits you’re entitled to. Use our free online benefits calculator.

How much can I get from a hardship payment?

You’ll get just over half of the amount that has been taken for the sanction. The total hardship payment will be 60% of your daily benefit, times by the number of days the sanction lasts.

For example, if you’re usually paid benefits of £500 every 28 days, and your benefits are sanctioned for one week (seven days), your hardship payment would be around £75.

A hardship payment is only paid for a limited number of days. If you’re still struggling after this payment runs out, you’ll need to make a new application.

worried woman reading paperwork

Worried you can't pay the bills?

Free, online advice available now

Get help now

What can I spend a hardship payment on?

Hardship payments should be used for important things like rent, heating, food and hygiene essentials.

Can I apply for other hardship funds or grants?

There may be other grants and funds available to you if you’re on a low income, Universal Credit or other benefits.

You could get help paying your water bills, government help with energy bills. Trust funds and funding schemes can also help with household bills.

Who are we?

  • UK's leading debt charity
  • Over 25 years' experience
  • Free, impartial advice & managed debt solutions

How we help