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Short-term Benefit Advances

Key information

From April 2013 Crisis Loan alignment payments and interim payments were replaced by a new national scheme of Short-term Advances (STBAs).

Applies to: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

Age rules: You must be aged 16 or over

Type of benefit: Means tested

Taxable: No

Administered by: Department for Work and Pensions



You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:

Who does it help?

Short-term Benefit Advances (STBAs) are available to people claiming any contributory or means-tested benefit, including Universal Credit.

You cannot get a STBA without having claimed a benefit first.

You must also be able to show that you are in financial need. This means that if you don't get a STBA there is a serious risk of damage to the health and/or safety of you and/or your family. There is no set list of situations this covers but as an example not being able to pay for gas or electricity could be a risk to your health. 

A STBA could help if: 

  • You have made a new claim for a benefit but will be in financial need until you receive your first payment
  • You have had a change in your circumstances that will increase the amount of benefit you are entitled to
  • It is not possible to pay your benefit on the due date. This could, for example, be due to a technical problem in processing your claim or payment.

If you request a STBA after making a new claim, the decision maker won't give you an advance unless they believe that you are likely to be awarded the benefit once the claim has been processed.

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How much does it pay?

The maximum amount of STBA available is based on:

  • Your personal allowance as part of the benefit you have claimed, and 
  • The number of days you have been due that benefit.

If you are already making repayments for previous Social Fund loans or STBAs, then these may be taken into account.

The amount you receive will be taken out of your benefit payments once they are set up.

You have to be able to repay the advance within three months, though this may be extended to six months in exceptional circumstances.

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How do I make a claim?

You can declare your need for a STBA to the Jobcentre Plus contact centre or an adviser in your local Jobcentre. They will then send an STBA request to the benefit centre to be decided.

Phone Jobcentre Plus:
Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Textphone: 0800 023 4888
Welsh language line: 0800 012 1888

In Northern Ireland:

Telephone: 0800 085 6318
Textphone: 0800 328 3419

Find your local Jobcentre Plus office

You should receive a call the next working day after your request is made.

If you do not have a telephone to receive a call back you should provide an alternative contact method. This could be a friend or family member's phone number. You can also ask to be contacted through your local Jobcentre.

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Challenging a decision

There is no right of appeal against:

  • The amount of an STBA
  • A refusal to offer an STBA.

When you get the decision you can ask for a reconsideration if you believe the decision maker has not considered the correct information. If you do this, another decision maker should look at the decision based on the correct information.

If you believe the correct process wasn't followed when the decision was made then it may be possible to challenge the decision through the courts by a process called judicial review. You will need to seek specialist advice if you feel this is the case.

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Last updated: 18 April 2013

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