Ask CPAG Online - How do you apply for a short-term benefit advance?

You must apply for an STBA in order to be awarded one. This section looks at what you need to do to make an application, what information you should provide and how your application is dealt with.

How do you start your application?

Tell the DWP adviser at your contact centre or Jobcentre Plus office that you want to claim a short term benefit advance. The DWP encourage you to ask for an STBA by phone if you can. To that end, the DWP publish a number of telephone numbers (including Welsh language and textphone): see https://www.gov.uk/short-term-benefit-advance. However, calls to these numbers are not free. If you do use them, ask the DWP to call you back. Otherwise, you can ask to use the phone in your local Jobcentre Plus office.

You do not have to apply by phone. In particular, if you are unable to speak on the phone you can ask your Jobcentre Plus adviser to assess you and apply on your behalf.

You can also apply in writing to the office dealing with your benefit claim. However this is likely to take longer to process, and you should use the phone or ask at the Jobcentre if you can.

What information should you provide?

When you apply, try to:

  • supply details about your benefit claim (for example, what benefit you claimed and when you claimed it);
  • explain how you are in financial hardship and that you need an advance payment of benefit (for example, you don’t have money for the gas/electricity meter or for food) and how do not have access to other sources to support you (for example, you do not have wages or other benefit owing) – see ‘Financial need’. You can say how much you need, but the DWP may not agree to award you that amount;
  • supply a contact a number for a call-back.

For a sample statement for an application for an STBA, see Ask CPAG – STBA sample application statement. You could use this to help you when talking to the DWP adviser when making your application, or it could be adapted for use as a letter. If you have an adviser who is making the application on your behalf, they should be sure that they can show that they have your authority for acting for you.

How is your application dealt with?

If you say that you are in urgent financial need and are unable to manage until your first benefit payday then DWP staff must inform you of the existence of STBAs. You should not be signposted to other help until the DWP staff have considered whether DWP support, including an STBA, is available.

The guidance (paragraphs 70,75,95,116) sets out how your claim is dealt with. Your application is initially considered by a ‘benefits processor’ who assesses whether you are likely eventually to be entitled to the benefit you have claimed.

If you apply by phone usually your application is decided on the same day, or at least early the next day.

If the assessor does not think it likely you will be entitled to the benefit, they will contact you to explain to you that you STBA application has been refused.

If the assessor does think it likely that you will be entitled to the benefit, they pass your application to a decision maker who then considers whether you are in financial need and satisfy the affordability criteria. You should receive a call from the decision maker on the day of your application or by 10am the next working day. They may request more information from you, or tell you whether or not you will be awarded an STBA.