THE Universal Credit boost ends today, with claimants set to lose out on more than £1,000 a year.
The £20 a week temporary uplift to Universal Credit introduced in April last year has been cut.
Millions of Brits have been affected by the reduction, with some claimants saying they will have to choose between heating and eating.
Debt charity StepChange warned today that just 28% of claimants will have enough to make ends meet following the cut.
The benefit reduction comes at the same time as the cost of living has rocketed, including a £139 energy bill rise.
Other Covid support schemes have also ended, including furlough, piling the pressure on struggling families.
The government has insisted that ending the temporary increase to Universal Credit is the right decision.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said this morning that it was "clearly unsustainable long term" to keep pandemic financing in place and that the UC uplift was "always going to be temporary".
Check what other benefits you can get
If you're concerned about your finances following the Universal Credit cut, the first thing you should do is check you're getting all the benefits you're entitled to.
MoneySavingExpert's Martin Lewis today told Universal Credit claimants to check if they're owed extra cash – and it will only take 10 minutes.
You can use an online benefits calculator to find out if you're eligible for more support.
There are a few to choose from – including Turn2Us and StepChange.
To make it easier you should have access to financial information including bank statements and details of your current benefits and housing costs.
If you live with a partner you will also need to include their information too.
Search for grants
Most councils offer Local Welfare Assistance programmes which can help you cover essential costs.
Each scheme is different depending on where you live, but it could include food costs, paying for cheap second hand furniture and help with energy bills.
You can find your local council on the government's website, and ask for details on what support is available.
This year, councils have also received £500 million to pay for a Household Support Fund to help families who are still struggling in the pandemic.
It will help people pay for food, bills and clothing this winter.
The scheme launched this month and most local authorities are yet to announce the details but it's worth contacting your council for more information on how to apply.
Help with childcare costs
If you claim Universal Credit your children could be eligible to receive free school meals.
You should check with your local council or your child's school for information on how to apply.
If you need help with school uniform costs, your local authority might be able to help.
The government has also provided councils with a fund to cover holiday activities for children from low income families.
The scheme ran during the Easter and summer holidays this year and will continue over the 2021 Christmas break.
Families who are eligible for free school meals can attend the activities and holiday clubs for no extra charge.
Tax free childcare is another way you can cut costs – check out our explainer on all the different ways of getting free or discounted childcare.
Energy bill support
You should also check whether you can get help to reduce your energy bills, particularly as fuel costs have soared.
You could get up to £300 off your fuel payments during the coldest months of the year with the annual tax-free benefit that’s available.
Eligible pensioners can receive annual one-off winter fuel payments from the government of between £100 and £300.
Meanwhile, low income households can get £25 a week to help with energy bills during the winter thanks to the cold weather payment scheme too.
You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is zero degrees celsius or below over the space of a week.
The warm home discount scheme means you can a £140 payment that goes toward your heating costs.
It’s not paid to you, instead it’s a one-off discount on your bill for the period between September and March.
Universal Credit budgeting loan
Universal Credit claimants can apply for an emergency loan if they're struggling for cash
A budgeting loan is designed to help with emergency costs including household repairs, getting a job, or funeral costs.
The smallest amount you can claim is £100, and the maximum for single people is £348.
This rises to £464 if you're part of a couple and £812 if you have children.
As this is a loan you will have to repay the full amount.
You will need to repay it through your regular Universal Credit payments – your payments will be lower until you clear the loan.
If you stop claiming Universal Credit you will need to repay by other means, such as from wages or other benefits.
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