Universal Credit advance

A Universal Credit Advance (new claim) or (change of circumstances) is an interest free advance of benefit for claimants who can show a financial need, which will be recovered over a set period of time, usually three to six months.

What is a Universal Credit advance?

A Universal Credit advance is a loan of future Universal Credit payments to help you cover living expenses while your claim is being processed, or during the first five week before a payment is made.

You won't get a payment automatically. They are only for people who can show they would face hardship without one.

Who can get a Universal Credit advance?

To be eligible for a short-term advance you must:

  • have made a claim for Universal Credit and
  • show you are in financial need.

You can only get an advance if it seems likely that your claim will be successful.

How do Universal Credit advances work?

You have to apply for a short-term advance. The amount of advance you can get depends on the amount of Universal Credit you are likely to get and how long you expect to wait for payments to start.

You usually have to repay the full amount of the advance within six months, but this could be extended for a further three months in exceptional circumstances.

Repayments are deducted in installments’ from your Universal Credit payments once you start receiving them. Jobcentre Plus must tell you in writing how much will be deducted from your payments.

You do not have to pay interest on a short-term advance.

How to claim a Universal Credit advance

You apply for a short-term advance of Universal Credit through Jobcentre Plus. You can apply at the same time as making in your claim for Universal Credit or afterwards.

To have the most chance of success you must provide as much information as you can about your circumstances and financial need. For example, you could:

  • provide rent arrears letters from your landlord, if you are struggling with your rent payments
  • provide copies of your gas or electricity bills if you are behind with your payments
  • show proof if you pay your fuel bills using a prepayment meter
  • provide bank statements.

It helps if you can show what your monthly living expenses are. Working out a monthly budget is also useful and helps you prepare for managing the monthly payments of Universal Credit once they start.
You may want to get help with your application from an advice service.

If you are refused a Universal Credit advance

You do not have the right to appeal if Jobcentre Plus decides you are not entitled to a short-term advance.
If your application for an advance of Universal Credit is rejected, you may be able to find other sources of financial help while you are waiting for your benefit payments to start. You may be able to claim a discretionary housing payment from the council to help pay your rent.

Your local council may also offer some other form of emergency financial help. Many areas now have an emergency food bank offering food to people in a crisis. Your local council office or an advice service may be able to refer you for help or give you the details, please contact MyCouncil for further information.

If you need a loan to pay for expensive items

You may be able to get a budgeting advance if you need extra money for a one-off expense or expensive essential items such as fridges and cookers.

Budgeting advances replace social fund budgeting loans for people claiming Universal Credit. They have longer repayment periods than those for short-term budgeting advances.

Read more about Budgeting Advances on our Universal Credit partner's website.