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Get an advance payment of Universal Credit

This advice applies to England

You can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit to help you get by while you're waiting for your first payment. You can also ask for an advance payment if your circumstances have changed and you expect your Universal Credit payments to increase.

Without an advance payment you won’t get any money until at least 5 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 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.

Getting an advance payment

You can ask for an advance payment by:

  • asking your work coach at your first Universal Credit interview
  • applying through your online account
  • calling the Universal Credit helpline

Coronavirus – getting an advance payment

At the moment, you can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit without having a Universal Credit interview.

You can’t ask for an advance online or by calling the helpline unless you’ve had your first Universal Credit interview - find out how to book your Universal Credit interview

The DWP will tell you if you can get an advance payment - you’ll usually find out on the same day you ask for it.

Once the 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.

You can ask for up to a month of your Universal Credit entitlement. You don’t have to ask for your full entitlement - you can ask for less. If you decide you need more, you can ask for a second payment but you’ll have to explain why you need it. The first and second payments added together can’t add up to more than your monthly entitlement. 

Example

Campbell's monthly entitlement is £500. He asks his work coach for an advance of £200 - he can ask later for a second payment but won’t get more than £300.  

Talk to your work coach about how much you can ask for. You'll pay your advance back through monthly deductions from your Universal Credit. Ask your work coach how much the deductions will be.

If you borrow a whole month's payment make sure you keep some back to pay your rent. Rent is included in your Universal Credit payment - it isn't usually paid straight to your landlord. 

If you've already had your interview

You can phone the Universal Credit helpline to ask for an advance payment or apply through your online account. You can ask up to 1 month minus 3 working days after you apply for Universal Credit.

It’s best to ask as soon as possible. Once you claim Universal Credit it will take at least 5 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: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to these numbers are free. It’s best to call from the phone number you gave the DWP when you set up your Universal Credit account. You'll have a shorter wait and be put through to the same person who handled previous calls you've made.

Example

Alice applies for Universal Credit on Monday 1 October 2018.

One month after this would be Thursday 1 November 2018.

Three working days before that would be Monday 29 October 2018.

So Alice has until Monday 29 October 2018 to ask for an advance payment. It’s still best if she asks as soon as possible, so she can get her money sooner.

Repaying the advance payment

The DWP will automatically take repayments from your Universal Credit until you’ve paid the advance back. They’ll tell you how much the repayments will be and how long it will take for you to pay the advance back.

You can spend up to 12 months paying an advance back. The DWP shouldn’t ask you to pay it back sooner than this if you can’t afford it - tell your work coach if the repayments will cause you hardship. You can ask to pay it back quicker if you want to.

If you're refused an advance payment

You can ask the DWP to look at the decision again if they won’t give you an advance payment. It will help if you can give new evidence or show that your circumstances have changed since your first request. 

If you're struggling to get by, check what extra help you can get.

You can read more advice about getting help with your living costs.

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.

If you’re struggling with costs 

You might be able to get help from your local council or an interest-free loan from the government. Find out how to get extra help.

If you have a child under the age of 14 or a disabled child, your local council should help you. They might cover essential living costs or find you somewhere else to live if you’re struggling with housing costs. Find your local council on GOV.UK.

If you're struggling to pay for food, find out how to get help from a food bank. If you have children, check if they can get free school meals.

Get help from an adviser if you’re struggling with costs while waiting to get your first Universal Credit payment.

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