Universal Credit advance payments and other help

If you’re waiting for your first Universal Credit payment and have little or no money to get by on, you can apply for an advance. This page explains more about advance payments and other financial help you might be able to get.

How advance payments of Universal Credit work

Top Tip

You will have to repay the advance from your future Universal Credit payments, so only ask for what you need to get you through to your first payment.

If you’re waiting for your first Universal Credit payment and have little or no money, you can request an advance payment. You have to repay the advance from your future Universal Credit payments within 12 months.

You can ask for up to a full month’s payment in advance. You don’t have to ask for it all in one go. You can ask for a part payment to start with, then put in another request if you find you need more money before you first Universal Credit payment has arrived.

You can usually only claim an advance payment on your first Universal Credit payment.

Claiming an advance while waiting for a Universal Credit increase

If your circumstances have changed and your next payment is due to increase but you haven’t yet received it you can also ask for an advance.

How to apply for an advance payment

Universal Credit Helpline

If you need help with your advance payment, call the Universal Credit Helpline free on:

Telephone: 0800 328 5644

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

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

The helpline is very busy because of the current crisis. It’s best to use your online account if you can.

You can request an advance from your work coach, through your online account, or by calling the Universal Credit Helpline. Since the start of the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, the phone lines been very busy so online is probably the best option.

You will be asked to explain why you need the advance, provide your bank details and have your identity checked.

You should get a decision the same day and the advance should be paid into your bank in three working days. If you can’t wait three days, it’s possible to get a same day payment.

Repaying your Universal Credit advance payment

Coronavirus

If you receive a payment from the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, you may be asked to repay your Universal Credit advance payment straight away. You won’t have to pay back any actual Universal Credit payments you’ve received, just the advance.

You can make your repayments over a maximum of 12 months and they can be up to 30% of your Universal Credit basic allowance.

  • If you’ve applied through your online account, you’ll be shown the repayment amounts for different repayment periods.
  • If you’ve applied through your work coach or a helpline adviser, they will explain how much you will have to repay each month.

The first repayment is deducted from your first payment.

If your advance payment is refused

Your advance might be refused if you (or both of you if you’re claiming as a couple):

  • have not yet had your ID checked
  • have enough money to last until your next payment
  • live with parents, relatives or friends
  • have any final earnings, redundancy payments or accessible savings

You can ask for the decision to be reconsidered by the Department for Work and Pension (DWP), but you don’t have a right to appeal.

Find out how to ask the DWP to reconsider their decision – What to do if you think your benefits decision is wrong.

Universal Credit scams

Universal Credit claimants are being targeted by scammers offering low-cost loans or grants from the government.

You might be called by someone claiming to work for Jobcentre Plus, or contacted through social media ads. Many of the scammers have convincing websites, with government logos and testimonials.

They may ask for your ID and bank details, offer to make a claim for Universal Credit and apply for an advance payment on your behalf, taking some of this money as their fee.

However the full amount of advance payments need to be repaid out of future Universal Credit payments, so you will end up paying back the whole amount borrowed.

You should also not be tempted by these offers if you are already claiming any of the benefits (like tax credits or Housing Benefit) that are being replaced by Universal Credit. This is because your old benefits will stop and the money you get on Universal Credit might be less than you are getting now.

If you are simply offered a government loan and asked to give your ID and bank details, the scammer might be trying to make a Universal Credit application without your knowledge, so do not give out these details as you may not be entitled to Universal Credit and this could be seen as benefit fraud.

If you’re waiting for your first Universal Credit payment and need help applying for an advance payment, the Citizens Advice Help to Claim Service will help you get the payment you need for free.

If you have been targeted, even if you’ve not become a victim, you can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, by using their online reporting tool, or to the FCA Scam Smart website{:target=”_blank”}.

Read out blog post on Universal Credit scams.

Worried about your rent, mortgage or other bills?

If your income has been affected by coronavirus and you’re worried about keeping up with your rent, mortgage or other bills, help is available.

Other sources of help

Help with housing costs

You might be able to apply for a short-term Discretionary Housing Payment from your council.

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 England, see this interactive map on the Children’s Society website to find your local welfare assistance scheme.

If you live in Scotland, find out more about the Scottish Welfare Fund on the Scottish Government website.

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 extra financial support on the nidirect websiteopens in new window.

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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