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How Universal Credit is paid

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.

Universal Credit is paid differently from other benefits.

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

If you make a joint claim as a couple, you’ll get a single payment for both of you. You can ask to have the payments split between you and paid into separate accounts.

When you'll be paid

After you apply it’ll usually take 5 or 6 weeks to get your first Universal Credit payment. The first payment wil be for half your monthly amount.

After your first Universal Credit payment, you’ll be paid twice a month.

Your housing costs will be paid direct to your landlord or mortgage lender unless you ask for it to be paid to you. 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.

Discretionary Support

If you don’t have enough to live on while you wait for your first payment, you may be able to get emergency help with unexpected expenses or items you need for your house - for example a bed or cooker.

See Help for people on a low income for how to apply.

Food banks and help with other emergency expenses

If you don’t have enough food, you may be able to get help from a foodbank or other organisation.

See food banks 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 helpline
Telephone: 0300 123 3017
Textphone: 0300 123 3018
Monday to Friday 8.00am to 6.00pm

Calls can cost up to 10p a minute from a landline, and between 3p and 40p a minute from a mobile (your phone supplier can tell you how much you’ll pay). It should be free if you call from your mobile and have landline calls included in your contract. When you call, you can ask them to ring you back.

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