When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Help while you're waiting for your Universal Credit payment

Your entitlement to Universal Credit starts on the day you answer all the questions on your application and submit your declaration. But, it will be five weeks or longer before you receive your first payment.

Grants from the contingency fund

You may be entitled to a one-off grant when you claim Universal Credit for the first time. This grant payment comes from the Universal Credit Contingency Fund. This fund was set up to help people who are struggling financially when they first claim Universal Credit. You apply to Finance Support for this payment. Finance Support will check that you qualify for the payment. If you do, the payment will go directly into your bank account. 

You don't have to pay this grant back. 

Advance payments

An advance payment is a loan. You pay it back through deductions from your future UC payments. If you stop receiving UC, your repayments can be taken out of other income, such as your salary.

You can ask for an advance as soon as you’ve submitted your claim, by

  • Asking your work coach
  • Using the “apply for an advance” section on your online account
  • Phoning 0800 012 1331

The advance could be anything up to 100% of what your first UC payment will be. You’ll still receive your first official payment when it is due, but a bit will be deducted to start paying back the advance loan. You have up to a year to pay back the loan. If you are really struggling, you may be able to delay repaying the loan for up to three months.

Budgeting advances

You can only ask for a budgeting advance if you are already receiving Universal Credit. These loans are to help you with emergency expenses. The minimum you can borrow is £100, but the maximum amount depends on whether you are single or have children.

Your loan is paid back through deductions from your future UC payments and you’ll have up to a year to repay what you have borrowed.

Run-on payments of benefits

Your can get an extra two weeks' payment of certain benefits if you move to Universal Credit from

  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • income-based Jobseekers Allowance or
  • Income Support.

This extra payment should happen automatically. 

Your Housing Benefit should also be paid automatically for another two weeks after you move to Universal Credit if you still have to pay rent. This will be the last payment of Housing Benefit you get, as your rent will be covered by the Housing Costs element of Universal Credit from now on.

This extra payment only includes rent, not rates. You will need to make a separate application for help with rates after you apply for Universal Credit.

Other emergency financial help

Contact Finance Support if you need money to pay for essential items. You may be able to get a grant or a loan. 

There are other types of emergency support, including help from charities, if Finance Support cannot help you.