How Universal Credit is paid
You’ll usually get a single Universal Credit payment every month. This will be paid directly into your bank, building society or credit union account.
If you don’t have a bank account
If you don’t have a bank account you’ll need to open one. You can read more information about getting a bank account.
If you’ve tried to open an account and had your application refused, you'll need to use the Payment Exception Service. You’ll need to explain why you can’t open a bank account. If you need more advice about opening a bank account, you can talk to an adviser.
How payments work for couples
If you make a joint claim as a couple, you’ll get one payment between the 2 of you.
You should tell the Jobcentre if you want the payments to go to one of you or be split between you. The Jobcentre doesn’t have to agree to do this.
If the payments are split, the amount you’ll each get will depend on your circumstances. You can ask for payments to be split if:
- it’s in your interest, for example because one of you has trouble managing money and it’s causing financial problems
- it’s in the interest of a child you’re responsible for
- you get an amount in your Universal Credit because you care for a severely disabled person and it’s helpful for them to get paid like this
If you're self-employed
Your monthly payment will be affected by:
- how much you earn each month
- the minimum income floor - check if it applies to you
When you’ll be paid
After you apply it will usually take 5 weeks to get your first Universal Credit payment.
You can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit if you don't think you'll have enough money to live on while you wait for your first payment.
After you’ve got your first payment, you’ll be paid monthly on the same date as the first payment.
If you're self-employed, you'll have to report your earnings each month before you can get your payment. Find out how to report your earnings to the DWP.
You might need to budget so that your money lasts from one month to the next.
You can use a budgeting calculator to help.
Paying your rent or mortgage
Some of your Universal Credit will be for your housing costs - you’ll usually be expected to pay this directly to your landlord yourself. This part of your Universal Credit payment is called a 'housing element.'
If you have a mortgage, you won’t get a housing element for mortgage repayments. You might be able to apply for a Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loan. This can help pay for the interest on your mortgage or home loan - check if you can apply for an SMI.
If you’re already on Housing Benefit when you apply for Universal Credit, you’ll still get Housing Benefit for 2 weeks after you submit your claim. You won’t need to pay this back.
If you think your rent or mortgage payment will be late because you’re waiting for your Universal Credit payment, you should talk to your landlord or mortgage lender. They might agree to wait for payment if you explain the situation to them.
If you’re in debt or behind with your rent payments, you can ask for an “alternative payment arrangement”. This means you’ll get paid differently from usual. You can read more about what to do if you’re in debt or having problems paying your housing costs.
If you're struggling with money
There are things you can do to save money on your regular living costs. Check what to do if you need help with living costs.
If you’re finding it hard to pay your bills, you can get help. Find out more about getting help with your bills.
Backdating your Universal Credit
You might be able to apply for a Universal Credit payment to cover up to 1 month before you started your claim - this is called 'backdating'.
If you moved to Universal Credit from other benefits because you got a ‘migration notice’ from the DWP, they might backdate your payments automatically. The DWP will usually backdate your payments if your old benefits stopped before your Universal Credit started.
A migration notice is a letter from the DWP that says you need to move to Universal Credit by a certain date. The date is 3 months after they sent the letter.
You’ll still need to ask for backdating if you:
- haven’t had a migration notice from the DWP
- have had a migration notice, but claimed more than a month after the deadline
Check if you can apply for backdating
You can apply for backdating after you’ve started receiving Universal Credit.
You’ll need a good reason for not claiming Universal Credit earlier - if you’re in a couple, you’ll both need a good reason. For example, this could be because:
- of an illness - you’ll have to show the DWP medical evidence for this
- of a disability
- you weren’t told your Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was going to end
- the online claims system was down, and you claimed as soon as it was working again
- you've made a new claim as a single person after breaking up with your partner - check what to do if you're in this situation
- you made a joint claim that ended because your partner didn’t accept the claimant commitment - you should now be claiming as a single person
You might not have claimed in time because the DWP told you the wrong thing. If this happens you can complain and ask for compensation.
Call the Universal Credit helpline if you want to backdate your claim.
Universal Credit helpline
Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 328 5644
You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.
Video relay - if you use British Sign Language (BSL).
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.