You can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit to help you get by while you're waiting for your first payment.
If you don’t get an advance payment you won’t get any money until at least 5 or 6 weeks after you apply for Universal Credit.
You should ask for an advance payment if you don’t think you’ll have enough money to live on between when you apply and when you’ll get your first payment.
The advance payment is a loan - you’ll have to pay it back, but you won’t need to pay any interest. The repayments will be automatically deducted from your Universal Credit payments until the advance is fully paid back. This will take several months, and you’ll get less money until then.
Getting an advance payment
The DWP should ask you if you need an advance payment at your Universal Credit interview. The interview takes place at a Jobcentre, and you’ll need to call your Jobcentre to arrange it. The DWP will cancel your claim if you don’t call within 7 days.
You’ll need to say how much money you need and give a breakdown of what it’s for. For example, you could tell them how much you need for bills, food and rent. The DWP will then work out how much your advance payment can be.
Once DWP have agreed to an advance payment you should get the money in 3 working days. Tell the DWP if you need it sooner than this - they can pay you on the same day if you’d have no other money to live on.
The DWP will pay the advance into the same bank account you’re using for your Universal Credit claim.
If you've already had your interview
You can phone the Universal Credit helpline to ask for an advance payment any time up to 1 month plus 1 week after you apply for Universal Credit.
It’s best to ask as soon as possible. Remember that once you claim Universal Credit it will take at least 5 or 6 weeks for you to get your first payment (sometimes more). So you'll need to think about how much money you'll need until your first payment.
Universal Credit helpline
Telephone: 0345 600 0723
Textphone: 0345 600 0743
Open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm
Calls cost up to 9p a minute from landlines and up to 55p a minute from mobiles. It should be free if you call from your mobile and have landline calls included in your contract. You can call them and ask them to call you back.
The DWP have said they're going to make this helpline free, but it isn't yet.
Repaying the advance payment
The amount of Universal Credit you get will be reduced until the advance payment has been fully paid off - this should take up to:
6 months if you've made a new claim
12 months if you've been moved to Universal Credit from another benefit
You shouldn't be asked to pay this back any sooner if you can't afford it - contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help with this.
You’ll be told how much the repayments will be and how long it’ll take for the advance payment to be paid off.
If you're refused an advance payment
You can ask for the decision to be looked at again if your application is rejected. It will help if you can give new evidence or show that your circumstances have changed since your first request.
If you need money, check what extra help you can get.
If you're in debt or rent arrears
There are some steps you can take to help you reduce your debt if you've just applied for Universal Credit.
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