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How Universal Credit is paid

This advice applies to Wales

Universal Credit is paid differently from other benefits.

You’ll 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’.

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.

See food banks and other crisis help in your area 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 number if you have an online account
Telephone: 0345 600 4272
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Universal Credit helpline number if you don’t have an online account
Telephone: 0345 600 0723
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls can cost up to 9p a minute from a landline, or between 3p and 55p 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. You can call and ask them to call you back.

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