What is 'financial need'?

A short-term benefit advance (STBA) payment can only be awarded where a DWP Decision Maker decides that you are in 'financial need'. This is defined in Regulation 7 of the Payments on Account Regs as 'a serious risk of damage to the health or safety of [you] or any member of [your] family'.

DWP guidance1states that financial need is 'not easily defined'2 and gives examples3 of where you are:

  • without money for a gas or electricity prepayment meter
  • without money when your partner leaves and your relationship breaks down
  • fleeing domestic violence

Giving details of your 'financial need'

When you ask for an advance payment, explain all the impacts a payment delay (or payment of an inadequate amount) could have on your (or your family's) health and wellbeing. This will help persuade the Decision Maker that you are in 'financial need'.

Give details of any children in the family and any health problems. The younger your children are and/or the more serious are the health conditions you or your family suffer from, the more likely the Decision Maker is judge that there is 'serious risk of damage to the health or safety of [you] or any member of [your] family'. 

Can you meet your 'financial need' another way?

DWP may refuse your advance payment if they think there are other resources you can rely on, such as local welfare assistance, family members or future benefits - as outlined below.4

Local welfare assistance 

DWP staff should not direct you to seek local welfare assistance until they have considered your STBA application.5  They may do so however if your need is not caused by benefit delays but arises, for example, because you have run out of money or had your money stolen.6

Family members and other resources

DWP may judge that you are not in 'financial need' if there are other resources, even though they do not belong to you, as in the following example from DWP guidance:7

23-year-old claimant judged not to be in financial need because she lives with her parents and therefore has an alternative source of support, although she says that her parents won’t support her

If there is someone living with you, who might be seen as able to support you, explain why they are not able to help, perhaps because there are other people they are supporting or they have no spare money.

Future benefit entitlement

If you are due to receive payment of another benefit within the next three months DWP may judge that you are not in 'financial need' because you can rely on this money to meet your needs. If DWP refuse your STBA on the ground that you can rely on future benefit payments ask when the future payments are due and explain your financial need in the meantime and/or why your needs now will not be met by a future payment. 

Challenging a refusal based on your financial need

If you are refused an advance payment because the Decision Maker  believes you have other resources or you are not in 'financial need', ask for a reconsideration during the phone call when the Decision Maker explains the decision.

  • 1. Unless otherwise stated, all references to DWP guidance below are to STBA Guidance for Benefit Centres
  • 2. STBA Guidance, paragraph 22
  • 3. STBA Guidance, paragraph 23 and Appendix 2 - Case Studies, Courtney
  • 4. STBA Guidance for Benefit Centresparagraph 21 and Appendix 2 - Case Studies, Sarah
  • 5. See STBA Contact Centres Guidance paragraph 5: Do not signpost the claimant to local help and support until you have considered whether benefit, an STBA, SF or any other DWP support is available to them.
  • 6. STBA Guidance, paragraph 6
  • 7. STBA GuidanceAppendix 1, Sarah