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 universal credit 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.

The number to call depends on whether you are claiming in a:

  • 'live service' area (you manage your claim by phone)
  • 'full service' area (you manage your claim online) 

Call the UC helpline on 0345 600 0723 if you're in a 'live service' area

Call the UC helpline on 0345 600 4272 if you're in a 'full service' area

Ask the helpline to call you back if you can’t afford the call or use a free phone at Jobcentre Plus. 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 get

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 you're a new claimant) or 12 months (if you're transferring from another benefit).

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

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help

Get help

Was this advice helpful?

Email a link to this article

Thank you - your message has been sent.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

Please contact #########

Was this advice helpful?

Thank you - your feedback has been submitted to the team.

Sorry! - your message has not been sent this time.

Please contact website@shelter.org.uk