A short-term advance of universal credit could help if you are short of money while you wait for universal credit payments to start.
Short-term advances of universal credit
You can apply for a short-term advance payment if you have claimed universal credit and you are waiting for your claim to be processed. After you make your claim, it can take up to 6 weeks before your first payment of universal credit. If there is a problem with your claim, it could take longer.
Short-term advances aren't paid automatically. You can only get one if you'll face hardship without one. For example if you can't afford to feed your family or pay the rent.
The amount of advance you can get depends on the amount of universal credit you are likely to get and how long you expect to wait for your first payment.
Contact your local Jobcentre Plus to apply for a short-term advance.
How to claim a short-term advance
You can apply for a short-term advance of universal credit at the same time as making in your claim for universal credit or when you have your interview at Jobcentre Plus.
You can also apply by calling the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723. This is not a freephone number, but you can ring them and ask them to call you back.
Provide as much information as you can about your circumstances and financial need. For example:
- rent arrears letters from your landlord
- gas or electricity bills
- details of your fuel costs if you use a prepayment meter
- bank statements
It helps if you can show what your monthly living expenses are.
Use Shelter's money planners to help work out your monthly budget.
If you need help with your application form, use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your area.
Repaying a short-term advance
You have to repay the full amount of the short-term advance within six months. This can be extended to 12 months if you are being transferred to universal credit after claiming another benefit, like JSA.
Repayments are deducted in instalments from your monthly universal credit payments. Jobcentre Plus must tell you in writing how much will be deducted from your payments.
You don't pay any interest on a short-term advance.
Reviews if you are refused a short-term advance
You don't have a formal right of appeal if Jobcentre Plus decides you are not entitled to a short-term advance. But you can ask them to look at their decision again if you think they did not look at the correct information or misunderstood what you told them.
Get advice if you think Jobcentre Plus made a mistake or didn't follow the right procedure in processing your application.
Use Shelter's advice services directory to find your nearest Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice.
Other sources of help
Your options could include:
- council-run local welfare assistance schemes
- a discretionary housing payment from the council to help pay your rent
- help from a food bank
- a universal credit budgeting advance if you need extra money for a one-off expense or expensive essential items such as a fridge or cooker
Find out more about other sources of financial help.