MPs this week voted against a plans to cut Universal Credit by £20-a-week in April - but the government is refusing to be bound by the decision.

A £1,040 increase, which came into force last April to help those facing hardship during the pandemic, is due to end in March - and while MPs have voted to extend it, the Prime Minister is calling for the boost to be scrapped.

Boris Johnson told Conservative MPs to abstain on the vote on Monday, allowing Labour's motion to pass with 278 MPs voting in favour and none voting against.

Now, the public have to wait until Rishi Sunak's budget on March 3 to find out whether the support will be extended.

It's unclear whether it will continue throughout 2021, causing distress for many struggling families.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak last year introduced the £20-a-week increase as a temporary measure to last 12 months, and it is due to end in April

Instead, ministers are reportedly considering a £500 payment to Universal Credit recipients, which would provide immediate financial support and might appear generous, but would have the advantage of being a one-off payment.

So what other support can you get if your benefit payments are being reduced?

The Flexible Support Fund (FSF) is a government fund for job seekers. It doesn't have to be paid back and you can claim it on top of any benefits you already receive.

There are also advance Universal Credit loans for those facing hardship while they wait for their first payment to come through.

It can take up to five-weeks for to receive your initial Universal Credit payment once you apply.

Those struggling can get an advance payment worth up to 100% of their estimated Universal Credit payout to tide them by.

Labour and charities say cutting the benefit now would cause hardship for families as the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown continue

Remember, this is an interest-free loan and you're expected to pay the cash back in the two years after you claim it. The money will be automatically deducted from future Universal Credit payments.

You can apply for an advance payment online or at your nearest Job Centre.

A budgeting loan is a one-off payment to help you cope with the cost of an unexpected expense or change in circumstances - but not all councils offer it.

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How much you get depends on whether you have savings of over £1,000 and can pay the loan back. On average, you can get £348 if you’re single or up to £812 if you have dependents.

Claimants who have been sanctioned may also qualify for a hardship payment while their Universal Credit payments are stopped or have been reduced.

A sanction is issued when you fail to meet your responsibilities or what you have agreed to in your "claimant commitment".

A hardship payment will help you pay for food and utility bills.

According to charity Citizens Advice, the payment is roughly 60% of the amount you were sanctioned by in the 30 days.

If you're struggling to put food on the table then you may be able to get free meals or a supermarket shop from a food bank in your local community.

You can't just turn up - you'll need to be referred to one from an authority, such as Citizens Advice, social workers, health visitors and doctors.

Those who qualify will be issued with a Food Bank voucher.

One of the easiest ways to find a local food bank is through the The Trussel Trust - which runs a large number of food banks across the UK.

To find the nearest Trussel Trust food bank near you,  click here.

Financial support for parents

More financial support for parents

If you're a parent struggling to cover your bills, you may be entitled to extra financial support. See what you're entitled to below.

  • You can get free NHS dental treatment if you're pregnant when you start your treatment. To get free NHS dental treatment, you must have a MATB1 certificate issued by your midwife or GP and a valid prescription maternity exemption certificate (MatEx).

  • You're also entitled to free NHS dental treatment for 12 months after your baby arrives. To prove your entitlement, you will need to show a valid maternity exemption certificate, a notification of birth form (your midwife will give you this form) and your baby's birth certificate.

  • Eligible employees can also take up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave. The first 26 weeks is known as ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ and the last 26 weeks as 'Additional Maternity Leave'. The first 6 weeks is paid at 90% of average weekly earnings (AWE) before tax while the remaining 33 weeks is £151.20 or 90% of their AWE (whichever is lower). These are the rules for those claiming Shared Parental Leave instead.

  • If your child is below the age of 18 and you don't live with another adult, you can apply for 25% off your council tax.

  • All parents can claim Child Benefit. This is a state subsidy of £21.05 a week for your first child and £13.95 a week for subsequent children.

  • If you're on sick leave because of coronavirus but don't qualify for sick pay, you can get a one off £500 covid support payment from the government.

  • The Healthy Start scheme  supports parents with food vouchers. You qualify if you’re 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four and get income support or another benefit. Payment vouchers start from £3.10 a week.

  • If you're on a low income, you may be able to claim income support, jobseeker's allowance (JSA), or housing benefit - which can help with rent. Here's a guide to benefits.

  • If you've a three or four year old child, you can register for the government's 30 hours free childcare scheme on top.

  • The Care to Learn scheme can help with childcare costs for parents still in education. It's £160 per child per week if you live outside London or £175 per child per week if you live in London. All payments will go directly to your childcare provider.

  • As well as the above, there are also  water bill discounts, free prescriptions, free school travel (and uniform relief ) and energy bill discounts that you can claim.