What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people in or out of work.

It replaces six of the main income related benefits you might be getting now:

  • Housing benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Income support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

Universal Credit key facts

  • If you’re in an area which offers a full service and are entitled to the benefits you may be asked to claim Universal Credit.
  • If you get help with your rent, this will be included in your monthly payment – you’ll then pay your landlord directly unless you are in arrears or fall under a vulnerable category whereby you can request payments direct to your landlord.
  • If you live with someone as a couple and you are both entitled to claim UC, you will get one monthly joint payment paid into a single bank account (unless there is a reason this needs to be paid separately).
  • UC is paid monthly in arrears so it can take up to five weeks after you make your claim to get your first payment.
  • There are no limits on how many hours a week you can work if you’re claiming UC. Instead, the amount you get will gradually reduce as you earn more until you reach the benefit support allowance.
  • You have to make your claim online (you can watch how to make a claim on YouTube by clicking here)

When will I be paid Universal Credit?

The date you submit your claim is the date of the month your Universal Credit payment will be paid. This is called your assessment date. Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears, so you’ll have to wait one calendar month from the date you submitted your application before your first UC payment is made. This is called your assessment period.

You then have to wait up to seven days for the payment to reach your bank account.

This means it can take up to five weeks before you get your first payment.

Make the most of your Universal Credit payment with personalised help from the Money Advice Service's Money Manager tool by clicking here.

Don’t delay making your claim for Universal Credit and apply as soon as you are entitled to do so as it can take up to five weeks for your first payment to reach your account.

Advance payments

If you have little or no money until your first payment, you can request an advance payment from your work coach or by calling the free Universal Credit helpline.

You can request up to a full month’s payment as an advance if needed or claim a part payment. You can make a further claim if needed within the assessment period.

Once the first assessment period is over, you can’t claim another advance payment.

To request an advance, you will need to talk to your work coach, or call the Universal Credit helpline. This can be done when:

  • you make your claim for Universal Credit
  • while you’re waiting for your first payment
  • when you’re reporting a change in circumstances.

You will be asked to explain why you need the advance, provide your bank details and have your identity checked.

You should get a decision the same day and any advance agreed should be paid into your bank in five working days.

If you’ve been claiming benefits for six months, you might be able to claim a Budgeting Advance to cover essential costs. Find out more here.

Repaying an advanced payment

If the advance is agreed, your work coach or helpline adviser will explain how much you will get, how much you’ll have to pay back each month and the date when the first payment is due.

The repayments come out of your future monthly Universal Credit payment over 12 months and the first repayment will come out of your first full payment.

Under exceptional circumstances, for example if you can’t afford the repayments or will fall into debt, repayments can be delayed for up to three months.

Why would you be refused an advance?

An advance might be refused if you (or both of you if you’re claiming as a couple):

  • have enough money to last until your next payment
  • live with parents, relatives or friends
  • have any final earnings, redundancy payments or accessible savings.

You can ask for a decision to be reconsidered, but you don’t have a right to appeal.

For further information on Universal credit go to:

https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/universal-credit-an-introduction

If you are moving to Universal Credit from housing benefit you may be eligible to a two week roll on of housing benefit – check with your local council to make that claim.

If you need support to make a claim or have an issue with your claim please contact Our Financial Inclusion Team on 03333 204555 or your work coach.

Contact the Universal Credit helpline

If you need help with your claim, call the Universal Credit helpline free on:

Telephone: 0800 328 9344

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

If you already have an online account and journal you should call the Universal Credit full service helpline on:

Telephone: 0800 328 5644

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

8am - 6pm, Monday to Friday (closed on bank and public holidays). Calls are free.