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Get an advance payment of Universal Credit

This advice applies to Scotland

You can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit to help you get by while you're waiting for your first payment. You can also ask for an advance payment if your circumstances have changed and you expect your Universal Credit payments to increase.

Without an advance payment you won’t get any money until at least 5 weeks after you apply for Universal Credit.

You should ask for an advance payment if you don’t think you’ll have enough money to live on between when you apply and when you get your first payment.

The advance payment is a loan - you’ll have to pay it back, but you won’t need to pay any interest.

Getting an advance payment

You can ask for an advance payment by:

  • asking your work coach at your first Universal Credit interview
  • applying through your online account
  • calling the Universal Credit helpline

You can’t ask for an advance online or by calling the helpline unless you’ve had your first Universal Credit interview - find out how to book your Universal Credit interview

The DWP will tell you if you can get an advance payment - you’ll usually find out on the same day you ask for it.

Once the DWP have agreed to an advance payment you should get the money in 3 working days. Tell the DWP if you need it sooner than this - they can pay you on the same day if you’d have no other money to live on.

The DWP will pay the advance into the same bank account you’re using for your Universal Credit claim.

You can ask for up to a month of your Universal Credit entitlement. You don’t have to ask for your full entitlement - you can ask for less. If you decide you need more, you can ask for a second payment but you’ll have to explain why you need it. The first and second payments added together can’t add up to more than your monthly entitlement. 

Example

Sam's monthly entitlement is £500. He asks his work coach for an advance of £200 - he can ask later for a second payment but won’t get more than £300.  

Talk to your work coach about how much you can ask for. You'll pay your advance back through monthly deductions from your Universal Credit. Ask your work coach how much the deductions will be.

If you borrow a whole month's payment make sure you keep some back to pay your rent. Rent is included in your Universal Credit payment - it isn't usually paid straight to your landlord. 

If you've already had your interview

You can phone the Universal Credit helpline to ask for an advance payment or apply through your online account. You can ask up to 1 month after you apply for Universal Credit.

It’s best to ask as soon as possible. Once you claim Universal Credit it will take at least 5 weeks for you to get your first payment. You'll need to think about how much money you'll need until your first payment.

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 328 5644

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

Video relay - if you use British Sign Language (BSL).

You can find out how to use video relay on YouTube.

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

Example

Alice applies for Universal Credit on Monday 1 October 2018.

One month after this would be Thursday 1 November 2018.

Three working days before that would be Monday 29 October 2018.

So Alice has until Monday 29 October 2018 to ask for an advance payment. It’s still best if she asks as soon as possible, so she can get her money sooner.

Repaying the advance payment

The DWP will automatically take repayments from your Universal Credit until you’ve paid the advance back. You’ll need to agree with the DWP about how much the repayments will be and how long it will take to repay them. 

If you applied for an advance on or after 12 April 2021, you can spend up to 24 months paying it back. If you applied before then, you can spend up to 12 months paying it back.

The DWP shouldn’t ask you to pay it back sooner if you can’t afford it - tell your work coach if the repayments will cause you hardship. You can ask to pay it back quicker if you want to.

If you're refused an advance payment

You can ask the DWP to look at the decision again if they won’t give you an advance payment. It will help if you can give new evidence or show that your circumstances have changed since your first request. 

If you're struggling to get by, check what extra help you can get.

You can read more advice about getting help with your living costs or check if you could get a grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund.

If you're in debt or rent arrears

There are some steps you can take to help you reduce your debt if you've just applied for Universal Credit. 

You can also read our advice on dealing with debt.

If you’re struggling with costs 

You might be able to get help from your local council or an interest-free loan from the government. Find out how to get extra help.

If you have a child under the age of 14 or a disabled child, your local council should help you. They might cover essential living costs or find you somewhere else to live if you’re struggling with housing costs. Find your local council on GOV.UK.

If you're struggling to pay for food, find out how to get help from a food bank. If you have children, check if they can get free school meals.

Get help from an adviser if you’re struggling with costs while waiting to get your first Universal Credit payment.

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