One-off payments for immediate and essential needs
If you have a one-off essential need that you have no other way of paying for, Work and Income might cover the cost with a lump-sum payment or loan (“hardship assistance”). This is regardless of whether you are on benefit or not.
Depending on the type of cost and your circumstance, you might be able to get some of the following hardship assistance:
- Recoverable Assistance – this is is paid to meet essential and immediate needs. This is both income and asset tested, and generally you’ll have to pay it back.
- If you’re getting a main benefit you can apply for Advance Payment of Benefit.
- If you’re not getting a main benefit, you can apply for Recoverable Assistance Payment. This covers the same costs, but the criteria is stricter if you’re not getting a main benefit.
- Special Needs Grant – regardless of whether you are getting a main benefit or not, if you have a particular need, you can get a Special Needs Grant to cover the cost and generally you won’t have to pay the assistance back.
If you have ongoing essential costs that you are unable to cover with your income or benefit payments, you can get Temporary Additional Support (see: “Temporary Additional Support“).
Note: If you make three requests for a one-off hardship assistance (Advances, Recoverable Assistance Payments, or Special Needs Grants) within 12 months, you may have to complete a budgeting exercise. This could include attending a budgeting course or seminar, getting advice from a budgeting service, or completing a budgeting work sheet on which you put down on paper all your outgoings and income. If you’re asked to complete a work sheet, you’ll need to fill this out in as much detail as you can. Try to keep track of all your fortnightly, monthly and yearly costs.