Universal credit advances

A universal credit advance could help you during the six week wait for your first universal credit payment.

What a universal credit advance is

A universal credit advance is an interest-free loan from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

When you claim universal credit, it usually takes at least 6 weeks until you get your first payment. It could take longer.

You can ask for an advance if you'll struggle financially while you wait for universal credit (UC) payments to start or increase, for example, you can't afford to:

  • buy food
  • pay rent or utility bills

You repay an advance through deductions from future UC payments.

When to ask for a universal credit advance

You can ask for an advance when you:

  • apply for universal credit
  • report a change in circumstances that will increase your UC payment
  • are waiting for UC payments to start or increase

If you're given an advance it's usually paid into your bank account within 5 days.

How to apply for a universal credit advance

Contact the universal credit helpline to ask for an advance.

The number to call depends on whether you manage your UC claim by phone (known as 'live service') or online (known as 'full service'). 

Call 0800 328 9344 if you manage your UC claim by phone

Call 0800 328 5644 if you manage your UC claim online

The call could take around 30 minutes. The helpline adviser will need to speak to you and your partner if you have a joint UC claim.

Be ready to explain why you need the advance. For example, you have rent arrears or can’t afford to buy food. 

You usually get a same-day decision.

How much you can get

From January 2018, the maximum advance is 100% of your estimated monthly universal credit payment.

The UC helpline adviser will tell you:

  • how much they can offer
  • monthly repayment amounts

You repay an advance from through deductions from future UC payments so only ask for what you need.

Repaying a universal credit advance

From January 2018, you can repay the advance over 12 months.

Deductions are made from your monthly universal credit payments. The first deduction is usually made on the day you get your first payment.

You can ask for your repayments to be delayed for up to 3 months if you can’t afford them. This is only allowed in exceptional circumstances.

If you are refused an advance

You might be refused an advance if you:

  • won't face serious hardship
  • are close to receiving your first universal credit payment
  • can't afford to repay the advance within 12 months

You can ask for the decision to be reconsidered but you don't have a right to appeal.

A benefits adviser may be able to help you.

Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre

Emergency financial help

There may be other types of emergency financial help, depending where you live.

Last updated 21 Dec 2017 | © Shelter

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