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Get an advance payment of Universal Credit

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

If you want to speak to someone about changes to benefits, you can phone the independent welfare changes helpline for free on 0808 802 0020 or contact your local Citizens Advice.

You can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit to help you get by while you're waiting for your first payment. 

It will take at least 5 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 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 could take up to 12 months, and you’ll get less money until then.

Getting an advance payment

The DfC 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 DfC will work out how much your advance payment will be - it could be up to 100% of your UC entitlement. 

You'll have to show that you can't get money from anywhere else and 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.

If you're transferring from another benefit you don't have to show financial need.

Once DfC have agreed to an advance payment you'll normally get the money the same day. The DfC will pay the advance into the same bank account you’re using for your Universal Credit claim.

 You'll get two Universal Credit payments a month, so your first payment will be for half your monthly amount.

You can ask for an advance payment of 50% of your monthly amount. If you find this is not enough, you can ask later for the other 50%.

Contingency Fund

You may be able to get a grant from the Universal Credit Contingency Fund if you’re in financial hardship. You don’t have to repay the grant.

To be eligible for a Contingency Fund grant you have to

  • have taken at least 50% of your maximum UC advance payment
  • not yet have received your first full month’s payment of UC
  • need help with living expenses
  • not have had a Discretionary Support fund grant for living expenses in the last 12 months

If you ask for further financial help after you’ve taken an advance payment, your work coach will tell you to contact Discretionary Support and they’ll assess you for a Contingency Fund grant.

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. You can also ask for an advance payment through your online journal.

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: 0800 012 1331
Textphone: 0800 012 1441

Monday to Friday 8.00am to 6.00pm
Calls to this number are free from a mobile or landline within the United Kingdom.

Repaying the advance payment

The amount of Universal Credit you get will be reduced until the advance payment has been fully paid off - this could take up to 12 months.

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. You can ask to repay your advance payment over 12 months or sooner if you can afford it - the DfC might not tell you this.  

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, you might be able to apply for Discretionary Support.

You can read more advice about getting help with your living costs, or get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you're in debt 

There are some steps you can take to help you reduce your debt if you've just applied for Universal Credit.

You can read our advice on dealing with debt.

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