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How Universal Credit is paid

This advice applies to Scotland

Universal Credit is paid differently from other benefits.

You’ll usually 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'. In Scotland, you can ask to change the way that your Universal Credit is paid even if you are not in debt or behind on your rent payments. You can only do this if you apply for or you are already getting Universal Credit in an area where you manage your claim online. You can ask to be paid every two weeks instead of monthly or for the housing costs element of your Universal Credit to be paid directly to your landlord. 

See Change how your Universal Credit is paid in Scotland for more information.

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.

You may be able to get help from the Scottish Welfare Fund. See Food banks and other crisis help in your area for more information.

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 number if you have an online account

Telephone: 0800 328 5644

Open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm

Universal Credit helpline number if you don’t have an online account

Telephone: 0800 328 9344

Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm

Calls to these numbers are free.

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