How to claim universal credit

Universal credit advances

You usually have to wait at least 5 weeks for your first universal credit (UC) payment.

You can ask for a UC advance if you need money during this time.

What is a UC advance?

An advance is an interest free loan from the DWP.

You pay it back from your monthly UC payments.

Your UC payments are lower while you pay back the advance.

You can pay the loan back over 2 years.

You may have to pay it back sooner if you stop claiming UC.

You can ask to delay repayments for up to 3 months if you cannot afford them.

Check if you can get an emergency grant or money help before you ask for an advance.

How to get a UC advance

You can: 

  • ask your work coach at your jobcentre interview

  • call the UC helpline on 0800 328 5644

  • apply through your UC account

Information you need

You need to:

  • confirm your identity

  • tell the DWP why you need the advance

  • give them your bank account details

Good examples of why you may need an advance are for rent, food or important bills.

The DWP usually ask if there is other money you could use. For example, savings, final wages or redundancy pay.

How much to ask for

The most you can get is the same as your estimated first monthly payment.

It's best not to ask for the whole amount unless you need it because it has to be paid back.

Video transcript

I moved into my first flat. My first time living by myself as well, so everything was new.

I couldn't find a stable job, so I decided to apply for universal credit, and the process took quite a while to get done.

But once it was all through, my debt was still building up, because I couldn't keep up with it, so I decided to call universal credit.

One of the advisers, just on the off chance, mentioned the advance payment option.

I was offered over £300 but I decided to only take £200 because that would be the minimum amount to cover all of my essentials. And I now pay it back in affordable instalments.

My advice would be if you need to apply for advance payments, that you only take an amount that you know you'll be able to pay back in comfortable instalments as well.

And keep in mind that the higher you ask for, the higher your instalment payment will be.

Fabiola says what getting an advance was like for her and gives some advice.

How soon do you get the money?

You usually get a decision on the same day.

The DWP should pay the money into your bank account within 3 working days.

You can ask for a same day payment in an emergency. For example, if you need it for food.

If you cannot get an advance

You might be turned down if your work coach or UC adviser decide you can manage without an advance.  

Ask them to reconsider if this happens.

Last updated: 6 April 2023

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