CHRISTMAS is one of the most expensive times of the year – so if you’re struggling for cash, you might be worried about how to get by.
Shoppers are expected to spend a record-breaking £84.7billion on food, presents and more this Christmas amid soaring prices.
While three out of five retailers expect to increase prices by the end of the year, meaning your Christmas dinner is likely to cost more.
With hard-up households having to cough up more money than ever this festive season, we round up six ways to get extra cash this Christmas.
From the £1,000 Universal Credit emergency loan to applying for grants under your local council’s welfare assistance scheme, you could get thousands of pounds to get you through the winter.
Universal Credit emergency loan
If you claim Universal Credit, you can apply for a Christmas emergency loan worth £1,000.
Claimants can get the loan to tide them over while they wait for their first benefit payment to come through.
However, as it is a loan, you will have to pay it back to the Department for Work and Pensions – although you don’t have to pay interest on it like with a normal loan or overdraft.
It means you get less each month in payments while you repay the loan though – so make sure to budget your cash if so.
How much you can get as an advance depends on the amount of Universal Credit you’re entitled to.
You can ask to borrow up to 100% of your estimated Universal Credit payment, and you should get the money through within three days of asking for the advance.
The most is just over £1,000 if you get the maximum Universal Credit award and you can find out the exact amount you can get when you apply.
Borrow cash at low rate
Applying for a loan could be an option if you need cash quickly – but make sure that you’re only borrowing money for something essential.
Loan rates are currently at their cheapest level, making it easy to get “dirt cheap” deals when applying for cash, finance guru Martin Lewis recently said.
You can borrow money using a 0% credit card, which means that for a certain period of time – usually up to two years – you don’t have to pay any interest on your repayments.
Make sure to repay the loan off before the interest free period ends though to avoid being slapped with a hefty annual percentage rate (APR) at the end of the deal – they can be as high as 20%.
Top rates, however, are usually only available to those with perfect credit scores
To check if you’re eligible for the cards with the best rates, MoneySavingExpert has a credit card eligibility calculator you can use.
If your credit score isn’t great, then you could consider getting a loan from a credit union.
These are locally-based organisations where members pool their savings to lend to one another – which often allows them to offer low cost products.
Welfare assistance grants
Hard-up families can apply for free cash and grants for furniture, bills and food up to £1,000 under the welfare assistance scheme.
You can apply for these grants through your local council – and they are available to people on low incomes who have run into financial difficulty or those who have had to deal with a crisis.
You can get up to £1,000 in some areas – but some councils don’t even have a scheme that families can apply to at all, The Sun revealed last month.
Applications for the grant soared over the Covid crisis, with some authorities dishing out up to 210% more awards.
To apply for a grant, find out who your local council is by visiting the gov.uk website and get in touch with them about whether help is available in your area.
You’ll have to put a claim in to your local council in order to get the help.
You’ll most likely have to provide some financial information to the council in order for it to assess whether to give you the help, such as whether you receive benefits.
You may also be asked questions about your financial situation, such as whether you work and what your income is.
Cold weather payments
Cold weather payments are designed to help people cover the cost of heating their homes when temperatures drop.
The financial support is worth £25 and you can get it more than once if the thermometers plummet between November 1 and March 31.
It kicks in when temperatures are recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees or below, on average, for seven consecutive days.
If you’re eligible, you’ll get £25 for every seven day period where the weather is below 0C.
You can check if your area has had a cold weather payment by putting your postcode into the government’s tool from November 1 onward.
Household Support Fund grants
If you don’t have enough cash to pay for household essentials, you might want to check out the new government’s new £500million Household Support Fund.
Households have been able to apply for cash from the scheme since October through their local council.
The help replaced the Covid local support grant – where families could get up to £1,500 to pay for food, bills and more.
How much you can get is determined on a case by case basis – which means your local council will decide how much to give to you.
Check your benefits
At least seven million people are losing out on more than £15billion worth of unclaimed benefits, according to charity Turn2us.
The average amount people claim a year is £5,320, according to the anti-poverty charity – which means that you could be missing out on thousands of pounds.
Nearly one million families are missing out on £2.9billion pounds worth of Universal Credit, while 745,000 are missing out on £3.3billion of untapped Housing Benefit claims.
To check whether you’re eligible for any benefits, you can use Turn2Us’ new online benefits calculator, which will take your 10 minutes.
You’ll need bank statements and information about your housing costs handy to use the tool.
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