If, after making a budget, you find your essential outgoings still exceed your income, look at ways you might be able to boost the amount you have coming in each month, or whether you might be able to pause some of your outgoings while you get back on track.
Check if you qualify for any financial support If your income has fallen, you may be eligible for financial help from the government. To find out which benefits you may be entitled to, and how to claim, visit the government’s benefits calculator.
For example, you may be eligible to apply for ‘new style’ Jobseekers Allowance to help cover costs if you are out of work and actively searching for a job. Applications for contribution-based or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance are no longer available, however if you previously applied you’ll continue to receive payments until your claim ends.
Jobseeker’s Allowance payments are usually made fortnightly, and you could receive up to £74.70 a week.
If you have a disability or suffer from a health condition that affects the amount of work you can do, you may be able to apply for Employment and Support Allowance. This allowance may also be available to those unable to work due to circumstances tied to coronavirus such as self-isolation or shielding.
From this allowance, you will receive money to cover living costs and help get back into work if you are able to.
To find out whether you’re eligible visit the GOV.uk website, or you could read our article Unemployment benefits: what are you entitled to?
You might also qualify for Universal Credit, a benefit paid to those who are unable to work or need some help meeting living costs due to being on a low income. Find out if you’re eligible for Universal Credit here.
The amount of Universal Credit you’ll receive will be calculated based on your individual circumstances. For example if you are single and aged 25 or above you can claim a maximum amount of £324.84 a month, while if you’re a couple aged 25 or over, the maximum is £509.92 a month (in the 2021/22 tax year).
Bear in mind that different earning patterns can affect your Universal Credit payments, especially if you are paid on a more frequent basis than once a month.Let’s take a look at some examples:
If you get paid every four weeks, you may receive two pay cheques in the same month.If you are paid every two weeks, there will be some months where you are paid three times.And, if you are paid on a weekly basis, you could receive pay up to five times in one month.
This could also happen if you are paid monthly and receive an early payment because the payday falls on a weekend or a public holiday. Furthermore, if your payday and assessment date are close together it could mean you earn two full pay cheques within the same assessment period. If this happens, you might exceed the earnings threshold and receive no Universal Credit payment, or a reduced payment, for the following month.
If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland and receive payments fortnightly, both payments will be equally reduced if you are still eligible for Universal Credit. You won’t need to make a new claim but you will need to reapply for Universal Credit by logging into your account and confirming your details to start the claim again. A useful tip is to look out for months this might happen and plan in advance. You can learn more about how Universal Credit works in our article Everything you need to know about Universal Credit.