If you’re in receipt of benefits, the Christmas period and colder weather can be especially tough. There are added financial pressures, as well as extra bank holidays, and it can be difficult if your usual payments and shopping routine are disrupted.
Here are nine useful tips to support you to manage your finances over the Christmas period. They include information about the changes in benefit payment dates, other seasonal information which may help you to plan your budget, and how the Trust can help through financial grants and our Helpline.
As always, if your health is likely to suffer or you have concerns that are affecting your wellbeing and ability to cope, please discuss this with a member of your CF team. Many teams have specialist social workers who will be available during the period, with details of who to contact in an emergency.
1. Universal Credit (and other benefits) dates over Christmas
Benefits are paid every two weeks (Employment Support Allowance, Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance) or monthly (all other benefits including Universal Credit).
If your benefits are due on 25 or 26 December (Christmas Day or Boxing Day) then your benefits should be paid on Tuesday 24 December.
If your benefits are due on the first of the month (Wednesday 1 January) your benefits should be paid on Tuesday 31 December.
2. Tax Credits
Working Tax Credit is provided to boost the income of working people who are on a low income, while Child Tax Credit is paid to help people with the costs of bringing up a child. This table shows when you will be paid tax credits if they are due on Bank Holidays.
Due date Payment date
Wednesday 25 December 2019
Tuesday 24 December 2019
Thursday 26 December 2019
Tuesday 24 December 2019
Friday 27 December 2019
Tuesday 24 December 2019 - Northern Ireland only
Wednesday 1 January 2020
Tuesday 31 December 2019
Thursday 2 January 2020
Tuesday 31 December 2019 - Scotland only
Child Benefit is usually paid on a Monday or Tuesday, every four weeks.
3. Advance payments of Universal Credit, new claims or increases
After you apply for Universal Credit it can take five weeks for you to get your first Universal Credit payment.
If you have applied for Universal Credit but haven’t received a decision yet and think you won’t have enough money to live on, you can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit. However, this has to be repaid from your benefit when you start to get this, over a 12-month period.
You also qualify for an advance if you're already receiving Universal Credit and are expecting an increase in your payment but haven't received it yet.
Find out more about Universal Credit here.
4. The Christmas Bonus
The Christmas Bonus is a one-off tax-free £10 payment made before Christmas, paid to people who get certain benefits in the qualifying week. This is normally the first full week of December.
5. Cold Weather Payments
If you receive certain benefits, you’ll get £25 for each seven day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.
After each period of very cold weather in your area, you should get a payment within 14 working days. The payment is made if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below for seven consecutive days.
You may get Cold Weather Payments if you’re getting:
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
- Support for Mortgage Interest
Take a look at the precise eligibility rules.
6. Help from your energy supplier
You might be able to get help with energy-saving improvements to your home through the Affordable Warmth Obligation.
If you're on a low income, or you receive certain benefits, you may be entitled to a grant towards home improvements such as a new boiler or insulation, that will reduce your heating bills, so you can keep your home warm all year round. Please note that in most cases you will have to make a contribution towards the improvement.
If you are on home oxygen, you may be able to access a rebate on your energy costs, to help with the higher energy bills an oxygen concentrator can bring. Speak to your oxygen provider for more details.
7. Emergency grant
The Cystic Fibrosis Trust offers emergency grants of up to £150 to provide short-term support to children and adults living with CF, and those that care for them, when they are in immediate financial difficulty and/or an item or service is urgently needed to stop their health deteriorating.
These grants are processed weekly. The last day for applications for an emergency grant before Christmas, due to our office closures, Friday 13 December, and the payment date will be Thursday 19 December. Grants received after this date will be paid on Thursday 9 January.
8. Health and wellbeing grant
The Trust also offers health and wellbeing grants of up to £350 to assist children and adults living with CF with buying items or services that will be of benefit to their health and wellbeing. Applications are assessed by a panel that meets every two months. We prioritise applications where the person living with CF would not otherwise be able to afford the item or service, due to being in financial need.
The deadline for our next round of applications is 7 January 2020, and the panel is on 16 January 2020.
9. Our Helpline
0300 373 1000 or 020 3795 2184
Our confidential Helpline offers a listening ear, as well as information and support on any aspect of cystic fibrosis, including financial support such as benefits and our welfare grants.
The Helpline is currently open during the following times:
Monday: Half day 9.30am-1.30pm
Tuesday: Full day 9.30am-4.30pm
Wednesday: Half day 9.30am-1.30pm
Thursday: Full day 9.30am-4.30pm
Friday: Half day 9.30am-1.30pm
The Helpline will close from 1.30pm on Monday 23 December, and will re-open at 9.30am on Thursday 2 Jan.
If you need urgent advice, please check Advice Local for advice agencies in your area, or speak to your CF team.
We know that the Christmas period can be a difficult time if you have money worries. Sangeeta, our Welfare and Rights Advisor, and Katy, our Welfare Grants Officer, will be available directly on our Helpline on 19 and 20 December so please do get in touch if you have any queries.
Outside of those dates, our helpline team are on hand all year round for any support or information you need and can provide information on grants, or a referral to Sangeeta for benefits.