Get an advance payment of Universal Credit
You can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit to help you get by while you're waiting for your first payment. This is called a ‘short term advance’.
Without a short-term advance it will take at least 5 or 6 weeks after you apply for Universal Credit to get your first payment.
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. The repayments will be automatically deducted from your Universal Credit payments until the advance is fully paid back. This means that you’ll get smaller Universal Credit payments while you pay back the advance payment.
How to get an advance payment
You can ask for an advance payment at your Universal Credit interview, which you’ll be booked in for after you finish your online application. The interview will take place at a Jobcentre.
If you’ve already had your interview, you can phone the Universal Credit helpline to ask for an advance payment.
Universal Credit helpline
Telephone: 0345 600 0723
Textphone: 0345 600 0743
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Calls to this number can cost up to 9p a minute from a landline, or between 8p and 40p a minute from a mobile (your phone supplier can tell you how much you’ll pay) - you can call and ask them to call you back.
You’ll have to tell them how much money you need and give a breakdown of what it’s for, eg how much you need for bills, food, rent etc.
You’ll need to explain how getting an advance payment will prevent damage to you or your family’s health or safety. This can be situations like not being able to afford to eat, or not being able to afford energy bills or rent.
You can only get one advance payment, so make sure you ask for enough to cover you until you’ll get your first Universal Credit payment.
Time limit for asking for an advance payment
It’s best to ask as early as possible. Remember that once you claim for 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 you'll need to get by until your first payment.
You're allowed to ask for an advance payment any time after you apply for Universal Credit. You might be told you only have 21 days to apply for an advance payment, but this is not the law. If you've been told you're too late to apply, you should get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.
Repaying the advance payment
Your regular Universal Credit payments 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 onto UC 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.
DWP guidance on advance payments
DWP guidance says new Universal Credit claimants can choose to pay back their advance payment before the 6 month repayment period has ended, but this isn't something they have to do.
If your client has had a change of circumstances they can ask to repay their advance back over 9 months instead - this is so they don't get into more hardship. They can ask for this even if they've already started making repayments.
If you don't get 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.
You can also read our advice on dealing with debt.