Help while waiting for a Universal Credit payment

You can get help if you do not have enough money to live on.  Contact the Universal Credit Service Centre through your Universal Credit online account, or speak to your work coach at your local Jobs & Benefits office

There are a few ways to get help while you are waiting on your first Universal Credit payment:

Universal Credit Contingency Fund payment

A Universal Credit Contingency Fund payment is Extra Financial Support which may be available if you do not have enough money to live on until you get full payment of your first Universal Credit award and need additional financial support. You will not have to pay this back.

Universal Credit Advance

If you have applied for Universal Credit and do not have enough money to live on, you can apply for an Advance payment. You will have to pay this back from your Universal Credit payments.

You can also ask for an Advance if your Universal Credit payment is going to increase because of a change in your circumstances, but you have not yet got the increased amount.

How much you will get

If you are eligible to get an Advance, you may get up to 100% of your estimated Universal Credit payment.

How you apply for an Advance

You can apply for an Advance by:

Messages to your online account will be answered as soon as possible during business hours.

You can only apply for an Advance online if you have had an interview at a Jobs & Benefits office or had a home visit.
If you have made a joint claim with a partner, one of you must have had an interview at a Jobs & Benefits office or had a home visit.

Covid-19
Face to face appointments in the Jobs & Benefits office continue to be suspended so you will not be asked to attend your local office currently

Before you can get an Advance you’ll need to:

  • provide details of your bank or building society account, and
  • prove your identity (and your partner’s identity if you have a joint Universal Credit claim).

If you have included children in your claim, Universal Credit will also carry out a check to confirm the children in your household.

Repaying an Advance

When you are deciding how much you need, make sure that you can afford to pay it back.

If you can get an Advance, you will be told:

  • how much you will get
  • how much you will need to pay back every month, and
  • when you will start paying the Advance back.

Repayments are taken out of your Universal Credit payments.

You have up to 24 months to pay back the Advance. In some circumstances, repayments can be delayed for up to three months if you can’t afford them. Contact your work coach at your local Jobs & Benefits office for more information.

When a repayment amount has been set, this cannot be changed.

If you stop getting Universal Credit, Debt Management will take repayments from your other benefit payments or your wages, or through a debt collection agency. You can also contact Debt Management to arrange repayments.

Why you may not get an Advance

You might not get an Advance if you:

  • will have enough money to live on until you get your Universal Credit payment
  • live with your parents, relatives or friends
  • will get a final wage or redundancy payment, or
  • have any savings available.

If you cannot get an Advance, you can ask Universal Credit to look at the decision again. However, you cannot appeal against our decision.

Budgeting Advance

If you already get Universal Credit, you may be able to get a Budgeting Advance to help pay emergency household costs, or to help you to get a job or stay in work. You can only get one Budgeting Advance at a time, even for joint claims.

A Budgeting Advance is to help pay for:

  • things that might help you to get a job or stay in work, such as work clothes, tools, travelling expenses and childcare costs
  • essential household items such as furniture, a cot, a pram, appliances, clothing and footwear
  • rent in advance or removal expenses to get a new place to live, or
  • improvements to, maintenance of, and security measures for your home.

How you can get a Budgeting Advance

You may be able to get a Budgeting Advance if you:

  • have been getting Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit or Housing Benefit for six months or more (unless you need the money to help you start a new job or keep an existing job)
  • earned less than £2,600 (£3,600 jointly for couples) in the past six months, and
  • have paid off any previous Budgeting Advances.

How much you will get

The smallest Budgeting Advance you can get is £100. You can get up to:

  • £348 if you’re single
  • £464 if you’re part of a couple, or
  • £812 if you have children.

How much you can get depends on whether you:

  • can pay the Advance back, and
  • have savings over £1,000

Apply for a Budgeting Advance

To apply, contact the Universal Credit Service Centre through your Universal Credit online account or speak to your work coach at the local Jobs & Benefits office.  

Repaying a Budgeting Advance

If you can get a Budgeting Advance, Universal Credit will agree with you:

  • how much you will need to pay back every month, and
  • when you will start to pay the Advance back.

When a repayment amount has been set, this cannot be changed.

Repayments will be taken out of your Universal Credit payments.

You will have up to 12 months to pay back the Advance. In some circumstances, repayments can be delayed for up to 6 months.

If you stop getting Universal Credit, Debt Management will take repayments from your other benefit payments or your wages, or through a debt-collection agency. You can also contact Debt Management to arrange repayments.

Discretionary Support

Discretionary Support is short term financial support paid into your bank account as either an interest-free loan or a grant which you do not have to pay back.

Information videos

Information videos can help explain the key stages in claiming Universal Credit

Help and support

If you would like independent help and advice on Universal Credit, or any other welfare changes, contact:

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