Moving home can be seriously expensive. Not only is there the cost of removals firms to consider, but also the extra money needed to get a new house ready for living in. Even if you’re not paying to have decorating done, you may need cleaning supplies, new light bulbs and other small expenses. If you’re on a low income and are in receipt of benefits, you may be able to get help with moving costs so before worrying about how you’ll afford everything, it’s worthwhile doing some research.
How to Find Financial Help
One of the first places to find help is with Age UK or the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. Both of these organisations have a lot of information on all current benefits, and will be able to establish whether you’re getting all the financial help available to you.
If you’re getting all the benefits on offer, there are three main options available if you need some extra help to move.
- Social Housing Tenants
There is no obligation for social landlords to offer financial aid to you if you’re moving via the Seaside and Country Homes scheme. Neither is it mandatory for landlords to offer help if you’ve chosen to request a move, either directly or through a transfer. However, if you’re living in a large property and want to downsize, you could be in luck. A lot of housing associations and councils will offer a financial incentive if you’re under-occupying, so it is always worth asking your landlord if they could help cover the costs of moving.
- Local Councils
One of the most expensive costs of moving house is the deposit or first month’s rent. If you’re struggling to find this, then contacting your local council could be a good idea. Many boroughs offer a bond deposit initiative. This is an agreement between the council and landlord that covers any deposit deductions due to damage or nonpayment of rent.
- Local Welfare
Lastly, some local authorities hold a small budget to help people move home. When the Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans fund was abolished, it was replaced with Local Welfare Assistance. This money is non-ring fenced, allowing councils to spend it how they see fit. In some areas, an authority will use the money to help with home moving costs.
Loans, Advances and Grants
There are a number of potential loans, advances and grants available, especially if you’re in receipt of benefits and need money to move. Even though these may not be free handouts, they might allow you to spread relocation costs into a more manageable repayment sum, giving you some peace of mind about your financial circumstances when moving.
- Budgeting Loans
To successfully qualify for a budgeting loan you need to have been receiving income support, pension credit, income-based job seekers allowance or income related employment and support allowance for a minimum of 26 weeks. The size of the loan will depend on your individual circumstances and ability to make repayments, but sums start from £100. In addition to covering the costs of advance rents or removal expenses, you can also use loans to pay for household equipment and furniture.
One of the advantages of taking out a budgeting loan is that they’re interest free. This means you only pay back what you borrowed. This normally needs to be completed within two years of taking out the loan, and your repayments may be deducted from any benefits you have, so it’s important to consider the impact if your income is reduced.If there are any problems with the loan (such as the repayment amounts, for example) you should ask you local Jobcentre Plus office to review the Social Fund decision. An Independent Case Examiner (ICE) can also be sought. Budgeting Loan application forms can be found here.
- Short-Term Benefit Advances (STBA)
Another option to help cover the cost of moving is to apply for a benefit advance. These are only available if you’re receiving a means-tested benefit like Universal Credit. There is also an option to receive an early payout if you’ve applied for a means-tested benefit but not yet reached the payment date. However, this needs to be thought about carefully as repayments will be taken from later benefits, reducing your income for weeks or months.If this is still something you’d like to pursue, you should contact your local benefits office to discuss a short-term advance.
- Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)
Housing payments are available only if you already qualify for Universal Credit or Housing Benefit. DHP’s can be awarded in special cases to those who need more financial help with housing expenses, including deposits, shortfalls in rent and moving costs. You should contact your local benefits office if you’d like to apply.
The UK has a large variety of benevolent funds and charities that are often able to offer monetary help. Whilst some organisations only offer aid to specific people, there are others who are willing to provide support to anyone. In addition, if you’re receiving Council Tax Benefit, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit, any money from benevolent funds or charities shouldn’t affect any means-tested financial aid.
The Citizens’ Advice Bureau or your local library’s copy of The Directory of Social Change will have lists of thousands of charities potentially able to help. Meanwhile, both Charity Search and Turn2Us are good places to start.