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How Universal Credit is paid

This advice applies to England

Universal Credit is paid differently from other benefits.

You’ll get a single payment every month to cover your living costs. This will be paid directly into your bank, building society or credit union account. If you don’t have a bank account you’ll need to open one - an adviser at your nearest Citizens Advice can help.

If you make a joint claim as a couple, you’ll get a single payment for both of you.

If you’re in debt or behind on your rent payments, you can ask to be paid more often -  this is called an ‘alternative payment arrangement’.

When you'll be paid

After you apply it’ll usually take 5 or 6 weeks to get your first Universal Credit payment.

After your first Universal Credit payment, you’ll be paid monthly.

If you pay rent or have a mortgage and you think a payment will be late because you’re waiting to be paid, you should talk to your landlord or mortgage lender and explain.

If you think you won’t have enough money to live on, you can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit.

Food banks and help with other emergency expenses

If you don’t have enough to live on while you wait for your first payment, you can get emergency help with things like food or items you need for your house - for example a bed or cooker.

See food banks and other crisis help in your area for how to apply.

Getting Universal Credit backdated

You can apply to get Universal Credit backdated if you couldn’t claim earlier, for example because:

  • of illness
  • of a disability
  • you weren’t told that 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 can get Universal Credit backdated for a maximum of one month.

Call the Universal Credit helpline if you want to backdate your claim.

Universal Credit full service helpline
Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to this number are free. 

Universal Credit live service helpline
Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to these numbers are free.

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