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Short-term advances of universal credit

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

What is a universal credit short term advance?

A universal credit short term advance is an interest-free loan to help while you wait for your first universal credit payment.

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

You can ask for a short term advance if you will face financial hardship while you wait for your claim to be processed. This includes if you can't afford to pay your rent or buy food.

You repay a short term advance through deductions from your future monthly universal credit payments.

How to apply for a short term advance

You can ask for a universal credit short term advance when you make your claim for universal credit or while you are waiting for your first payment.

Call the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723

This is not a freephone number. Ask the helpline to call you back if you can’t afford the call or visit your local Jobcentre Plus and ask to use their free phone.

The call could take around 30 minutes.

The Universal Credit helpline adviser will need to speak to you and your partner if you have a joint universal credit claim.

Be ready to:

  • explain why you need the advance
  • tell them if you have rent arrears or can’t afford to buy food
  • provide your bank details so that the Universal Credit helpline adviser can arrange payment if the advance is agreed

You usually get a decision on the same day.

How much you can borrow

The maximum advance you can get is 50% of your estimated universal credit monthly payment.

You repay a short term advance from future universal credit payments so only ask for what you need.

Cost of repayments

The Universal Credit helpline adviser assesses whether you can afford to repay the advance over the next 6 months.

If they agree to the advance, they will tell you over the phone:

  • how much they can offer
  • monthly repayment amounts
  • when the first repayment is due

How the advance is repaid

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

You have to repay the advance within:

  • 6 months if you are a new claimant
  • 12 months if you are transferred from another benefit to universal credit

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 the timescales

You can ask for the decision to be reconsidered but you do not 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

Depending on where you live, there may be other forms of emergency financial help on offer.


Last updated 27 Apr 2017 | © Shelter

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