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Your first Universal Credit payment will usually come 5 weeks after you apply. If you have no savings and find yourself struggling to wait that long, you can apply for an ‘advance payment’. This is an advance of some, or all, of your first Universal Credit payment.
The advance payment also works like a loan. You’ll pay it back each month from your Universal Credit payment.
You can apply through your work coach at the Jobcentre. You will need to tell them why you need an advance payment and show ID. Don’t forget to bring along your bank details showing where you’d like to receive the money.
How to apply for a Universal Credit advance
You can apply for a Universal Credit payment advance:
- before you get your first payment
- if you are already being paid Universal Credit, you’ve informed the DWP about your change in your circumstances and you’re waiting to be paid an increased amount of Universal Credit
To apply for a Universal Credit advance you can:
- speak to your Jobcentre Plus work coach
- apply through your online account
- call the Universal Credit helpline
Applying through your online account
Choose the ‘apply for an advance’ section to apply for an advance online through your account .
You can only apply for an advance online if you are within your first Universal Credit assessment period and you have had an interview at the jobcentre. If you have passed your first assessment period you will need to apply by calling the helpline.
When you apply for an advance online, the amount you can get will be shown on screen.
If you are part of a couple you will also be asked if your partner agrees to the advance.
Applying through your work coach or the Universal Credit helpline
If you apply for an advance by speaking to your work coach or calling the Universal Credit helpline, you (and your partner if you have one) will need to:
- explain why you need an advance
- provide bank account details where the advance should be paid (talk to your work coach if you cannot open an account)
- have had your identity checked at a jobcentre
When you’ll get a decision
You’ll get a quick decision on your advance application. You’ll usually be told the outcome on the same day.
How much you can get
You may be able to get up to 100% of your estimated Universal Credit payment.
You will need to repay an advance from future Universal Credit payments or by other means if you no longer get Universal Credit, such as from wages or other benefits you may be getting.
Cost of repayments
If you apply for an advance online you will be shown on screen the repayment amounts for different repayment periods.
If you apply by phone, the Universal Credit helpline adviser assesses whether you can afford to repay the advance. If they agree to the advance, they will tell you over the phone:
- how much you can have
- the monthly repayment amounts
- when the first repayment is due
How the advance is repaid
Deductions are made from your monthly Universal Credit payment. The first deduction is made on the day you get your first payment. You must usually pay back the advance within:
- 24 months if you apply for the advance on or after 12 April 2021 because you’ve made a new claim for Universal Credit
- 12 months if you applied for the advance before 12 April 2021 because you made a new claim for Universal Credit
- 6 months if you apply for the advance because of a change of circumstances
You can ask for your repayments to be delayed if you cannot afford them. Repayments can be delayed for:
- 3 months if the advance is for a new claim
- 1 month if the advance is for a change of circumstances
This is only allowed in exceptional circumstances.
If you are refused an advance
You might be refused an advance if you:
- have not had your identity checked at the Jobcentre
- have enough money to last until your payment of Universal Credit
- live with parents, relatives or friends
- have any final earnings or redundancy payments
- have any accessible savings
You can ask for the decision to be reconsidered but you do not have a right to appeal.
If you no longer get Universal Credit and have not paid back your advance
You will need to continue to pay back your advance, even if you stop getting Universal Credit.
If you move from Universal Credit to another benefit the deductions will usually continue from your payments until the advance is paid off.
If you move off benefits you will receive a letter telling you how much you owe. The letter will ask you to contact DWP Debt Management Contact Centre to arrange your repayments. It is important that you do not ignore this letter.
If you don’t make payment arrangements, the DWP can recover the amount you owe by either:
- contacting your employer (where you have one) to arrange for deductions to be made from your earnings
- asking an independent debt collection agency to collect this money on our behalf (you should deal directly with the independent debt collector to arrange repayment)
If you no longer get Universal Credit and cannot pay back your advance
You can contact the DWP Debt Management contact centre if you can’t afford to pay back the amount you owe.
They can help you come to an affordable arrangement to pay back your advance as well as providing:
- support with setting up monthly repayments by Direct Debit
- paying-in slips for cheque or cash payments