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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 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, which you'll usually have to do within 6 months if you are applying for 

How to get an advance payment

You can ask for an advance payment online or 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: 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.

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

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 get a maximum of 50% of your total estimated Universal Credit award.

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.

If because of technical problems you don't get your first payment of Universal Credit on the date it is due, you can get an interim payment of 100% of your estimated award.

If the first payment is delayed because they don't have enough evidence to verify all your claim, you will get an advance payment of the parts of the award that have been verified. This will be taken off your first full payment once the Universal Credit award is finalised.

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 and have had your identity verified. 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 payments will be reduced until the advance payment has been fully paid off - it will take between 6 and 12 months depending on your circumstances (6 months for fresh claims).

You’ll be told how much the repayments will be and how long it’ll take for the advance payment to be paid off.

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, 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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