Benefit payment advances and Budgeting Loans

If you’re waiting for your first benefit payment and have little or no money, you might be able to apply for a short-term benefit advance or a Universal Credit Advance payment. This page explains more about advance payments as well as Budgeting Loans and other help when you’re already claiming benefits.

How to apply for a short-term benefit advance

You can ask for a short-term benefit advance if you’re in financial need and either:

  • You’ve made a new claim for a benefit and you’re waiting for your first payment.
  • You’ve had a significant change in your circumstances that means your benefit will go up by a large amount and you can’t wait until the next payment.

If you are awarded an advance payment of your benefit you will normally pay it back out of your future payments.

You can make a claim in person at your local Jobcentre Plus office. Or you can call the helpline that deals with the benefit you’re claiming.

How to apply for Universal Credit Advance payments

If you’ve made a claim for Universal Credit, you may have to wait up to six weeks for your first payment because Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears.

If you will have little or no money until your first payment, ask your work coach or call the Universal Credit helpline for a Universal Credit Advance payment.

You will have to pay back a Universal Credit Advance out of your future payments, usually within six months.

Universal Credit helpline

Tel: 0345 600 0723

Text phone: 0345 600 0743

8am - 6pm, Monday to Friday (closed on bank and public holidays).

How to apply for help with the rent

If you’ve claimed Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction and need help with paying your rent or Council Tax until you get your first payments, you may be able to apply for a short-term Discretionary Housing Payment from your council.

How to apply for a Budgeting Loan

If you’ve been getting certain benefits for at least 26 weeks you might be able to apply for an interest-free Budgeting Loan to cover essential expenses such as clothing, footwear or furniture for your home.

Relevant benefits include:

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • Income Support.

Ask your adviser at the Jobcentre Plus for an application form.

Find out more in our guide to Budgeting Loans.

How to apply for a Budgeting Advance if you’re on Universal Credit

If you’ve been claiming Universal Credit for six months or more you may be able to claim a Budgeting Advance to cover essential expenses.

You can’t claim a Budgeting Advance if you’re waiting for your first Universal Credit payment - you’ll have to claim a Universal Credit Advance instead.

You have to pay the money back from future Universal Credit payments but the loan is interest free.

Ask your work coach at the Jobcentre Plus how to apply.

Other sources of help

How to find your local welfare scheme

If you need help with heating, fuel or food bills or have an emergency expense, you can see if your local welfare scheme can help.

In England this scheme is run by your local council.

The other countries in the United Kingdom run their own schemes.

If you live in Wales, find out more about the Discretionary Assistance Fund on the Welsh Government website.
If you live in Northern Ireland, find out more about Discretionary Support on the nidirect websiteopens in new window.

How to apply for a credit union loan

If you have to borrow money, see if there’s a credit union in your area. They specialise in offering loans at low rates and helping members who need financial help.

Some credit unions may lend money straightaway to new members without you having to save with them first.

You will have to pay a higher interest charge than the rates offered to regular savers, but this rate is usually much lower than other high-cost credit, such as payday loans or doorstep loans.

The credit union will want to be sure you can afford to pay the loan back but they will work with you to make your repayments manageable.

Find out more in our guide Borrowing from a credit union.

Get help with budgeting

If you need help with personal budgeting, ask at the Jobcentre and they will be able to tell you where face-to-face support is available.

Alternatively, read our page on How to budget for a monthly benefit payment.

Get free debt advice

If you’re struggling to pay off existing debts, seek advice from a debt advice charity straight away.

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