Universal Credit UK: How Britons can apply for an advance to assist their living costs

Universal Credit, issued by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has become particularly relied upon by a larger group of people as a result of financial hardship brought about by lockdown measures. Over 1.5 million people are estimated to have claimed the benefit from the government which provides a monthly sum to those who are eligible. Those making a first claim usually have to wait for five weeks to receive their initial payment, but this is often too long to wait for those in dire financial straits.


  • Universal Credit UK: Who is eligible, payment dates and how much

As a result, the DWP has implemented a payment advance procedure to assist those who need it most.

Britons who are struggling to meet payments and regular costs can apply via the Universal Credit online portal for an advance payment.

The amount which can be borrowed by claimants is up to their first estimated Universal Credit monthly payment.

Much like a standard Universal Credit claim, Britons are required to provide information surrounding their bank details, verification of identity and income information.

However, they must also tell the DWP why they need an advance payment. 

It is usually the case that potential claimants will find out on the same day as their application whether they have received an advance. 

However, it is important to note those who have gained an advance will have to pay this figure back later down the line.

Deductions are made from subsequent Universal Credit payments until the advance is repaid.

Britons have up to 12 months to pay back this advance, but can also ask for these repayments to be delayed for up to three months if in difficult and exceptional circumstances.

Those who apply for Universal Credit over the phone could also receive advice on advances.

Helpline advisers can help claimants to understand how much they can gain in an advance, the monthly repayment amounts, and when their first repayment is due. 

People who currently claim Universal Credit may also be able to claim an advance, particularly if their circumstances have changed.

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  • Up to £1.5 billion lost in Universal Credit benefit fraud

Usually, advances are not granted until a claimant has received a Universal Credit interview, however the impact of coronavirus has created an exception.

Those who are refused an advance payment can ask the DWP to look at the decision again.

This enables potential claimants to give new evidence or show a change in circumstances since the first request.

Many campaign groups have asked for the five-week wait period of Universal Credit to be shortened. 

However, the government has stated this is not possible. 

Universal Credit director-general, Neil Couling, previously told a press briefing: “If you play about with the architecture of Universal Credit, you won’t be able to pat the vast millions we have to pay each month.”

Mr Couling also added the DWP were attempting to pay a high proportion of claimants as soon as possible, amid rising demand for the system during the crisis. 

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