Help with Universal Credit Cuts and Debts

My Universal Credit is going to be cut by £20 a week. I
struggle to get by as it is and I’m really worried that I’ll get into serious debt.

I’m already behind on some of my bills.

What can I do to avoid things getting

You’re not alone in this – there is support available.

Firstly, depending on your situation, you might be able to ask to have your Universal
Credit paid differently – these are called ‘alternative payment arrangements’. This
might be an option if you’re in rent arrears, among other reasons. To apply for an
alternative payment arrangement, call the Universal Credit helpline on: 0800 328 5644.

If you’re behind on some of your bills, the first step is to make a list of how much you
owe and add up how much you need to pay each month.

You now need to prioritise your debts. We have advice on our website to help you do
this. Some bills can cause you more problems than others if you don’t pay them.
Rent or mortgage arrears, energy bills and council tax are your priority debts as
there can be serious consequences if you don’t pay them.

Be sure to get in touch with the organisations you owe money to. Not everyone feels
confident to do this, but they might be able to help by letting you pay smaller
amounts or taking a break from payments. Many organisations have put in place
protections for people who’ve struggled to pay their bills during the pandemic.

The government-backed Breathing Space scheme could also give you extra time. If
you’re eligible, you could get 60 days where your creditors can’t contact you, take
action to make you pay, or add interest and charges to your debt. You’ll need to get
advice from a debt adviser first – they’ll check all your debts to see if they’re covered
by the scheme.

Finally, it’s always a good idea to have a budget – take a look at the budgeting tool on
our website and make sure you’re getting all the income you’re entitled to.
Everyone’s circumstances are different, particularly when it comes to managing
personal finances. If you need more specific support or don’t feel able to manage
your situation alone, call us on 015394 46464.

Free, confidential advice and help is available from South Lakes Citizens
Advice on any aspect of debt, consumer problems, benefits, housing,
employment or any other problems.

South Lakes Citizens Advice, your local charity, is here for you.

How to access:
 Call 015394 46464 – this is being staffed from 9:30 – 2pm
 Adviceline: 0808 2787 984
 email advice via our submission page on our website
 Help to Claim (Universal Support): 0800 144 8 444