Hardship Payments - Universal Credit Hardship Payments

Hardship Payments are reduced-rate payments of Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit (UC) that are made in limited circumstances, including if you have been sanctioned.

Universal Credit Hardship Payments

You may be able to get Hardship Payments of Universal Credit (UC) if your UC is being paid at a reduced (or nil) rate because of a benefit sanction or because you have committed a benefit offence.

Important: Hardship Payments of UC are loans that you have to pay back.

You can qualify for a Hardship Payment of UC if:

  • You or your partner are over 18 and have been sanctioned, and
  • You or your partner are expected to take part in work preparation or a work search, and
  • the DWP accepts that you'll face hardship if you don't get a payment

You can also get a hardship payment if your Universal Credit is reduced because you committed a benefit offence, as long as the DWP accepts that you will face hardship if you don't get a payment. 

To be able to get a Hardship Payment, you have to make an application - it is not automatic. You will need to give evidence of why you will be in hardship if you don't get a payment.

You will also need to agree to pay back the Hardship Payment.

The DWP will not give you a hardship payment if, in the seven days before applying for one, you failed to meet any of your work related requirements. 

If you are aged 16-17 and you are sanctioned, you cannot get Hardship Payments. This is because, while you are sanctioned, your UC is automatically paid at a reduced rate.

If your UC has been reduced because of a benefit offence and you are aged 16-17, you can still apply for a Hardship Payment.

UC Hardship payments: What is Hardship? 

The decision maker only considers you to be in hardship if:

  • You cannot meet your immediate and most basic essential needs or those of a child you are responsible for. For example: accommodation, heating, food and hygiene.

  • You have tried your best to get other help, such as trying to get free help or asking family for support. You aren't expected to sell your things or go into debt. You shouldn't be expected to use foodbanks if you don't want to. 


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