Guidance

Universal Credit advances

If you don’t have enough to live on while you wait for your first payment you may be able to get an advance of your first Universal Credit payment.

When you first claim Universal Credit you will not be paid any money until 5 weeks after you submit your claim, you will then be paid monthly.

You can ask for an advance payment of your Universal Credit if you are in financial hardship while you wait for your first payment, for example, if you can’t afford to pay your rent or buy food.

You will need to pay back your advance a bit at a time from your future Universal Credit payments, or by other means if you no longer get Universal Credit, for example, from your wages or other benefit you may be getting.

If you are already receiving Universal Credit you may also be able to get a Budgeting Advance to help pay for emergency household costs, for example, buying a new cooker or for help getting a job or staying in work.

How to apply for a Universal Credit advance

You can ask for a Universal Credit advance:

  • as soon as you make your claim for Universal Credit
  • before you get your first payment
  • if you are already being paid Universal Credit and have told us of a change in your circumstances that means you will be paid more Universal Credit but have not yet been paid the increased amount

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

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Find out about call charges

If you apply for an advance online through your account you will need to click the ‘apply for an advance’ section.

You can only apply for an advance online if you are within your first Universal Credit assessment period. If you have passed your first assessment period you will be directed to apply by calling the helpline.

When you apply for an advance online the amount you can borrow will be shown on screen. If you are part of a couple you will also be asked if your partner agrees to taking the advance.

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
  • have had your identity checked (you’ll do this online when you submit your Universal Credit claim, or in the jobcentre during your first interview)

We will usually let you know on the same day if you can get an advance.

If you have a Universal Credit online account and contact us through your online journal you are using Universal Credit full service.

Universal Credit full service

Telephone 0800 328 5644
Textphone 0800 328 1344
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Find out about call charges

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 benefit you may be getting.

Cost of repayments

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 and you’ll have up to 12 months to pay back the advance.

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:

  • 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 can’t 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

How to contact DWP about repaying an advance

If you need to discuss repaying an advance you can contact the DWP Debt Management contact centre:

DWP Debt Management contact centre

Telephone: 0800 916 0647
Textphone: 0800 916 0651
Calling from abroad: +44 (0)161 904 1233
Monday to Friday, 8am to 7:30pm
Saturday, 9am to 4pm

Find out about call charges

Get a Budgeting Advance

You can get what is known as a ‘Budgeting Advance’ to help pay for emergency household costs (for example buying a new cooker or for help getting a job or staying in work).

A Budgeting Advance is a loan, and you’ll need to repay it through your regular Universal Credit payments – your payments will be lower until you pay it back.

If you no longer get Universal Credit you will need to repay by other means, such as from wages or other benefit you may be getting.

You’ll be told how much your payments will be reduced by.

What you’ll get

The smallest amount you can borrow is £100. You can get up to:

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

How much you can get depends on whether you:

  • can pay the loan back
  • have any savings over £1,000 (we will reduce the loan amount we offer to you by £1 for every £1 you have in savings over the £1000 threshold)

How the Budgeting Advance is repaid

Deductions are made from your single monthly Universal Credit payment. The first deduction is made on the day you get your next payment.

You will have to repay the Budgeting Advance within 12 months.

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, or
  • 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)

Eligibility

To get a Budgeting Advance, you must have:

  • been getting Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or State Pension Credit for 6 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 6 months
  • paid off any previous Budgeting Advances

How to apply for a Budgeting Advance

To apply for a Budgeting Advance contact your local Jobcentre Plus work coach.

Published 23 October 2017
Last updated 5 July 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated information about how to apply for an advance of Universal Credit.
  2. Information updated about when a claimant moves off Universal Credit and a Universal Credit advance has not been fully repaid.
  3. Amended the first payment information. The first payment will now usually be received 1 month and 7 days after a claim is submitted.
  4. Changes to advance payment amounts and repayment periods.
  5. Updated guide with new 0800 freephone numbers for Universal Credit.
  6. First published.