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.

You can ask for an advance payment if you are worried about money during this time.

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

Extra help from the contingency fund

If you have requested an advance to help you manage while you wait for your first payment of Universal Credit, your work coach should also talk to you about a contingency fund. This is a special fund which gives grants to people who are struggling because of the move to Universal Credit. Ask your work coach about this fund when you first meet with them. You won't have to pay back any money you are given from the contingency fund.

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.

Housing Benefit run-on

You may be able to get Housing Benefit paid for an extra two weeks if you are moving from Housing Benefit to Universal Credit.

This extra payment of Housing Benefit should happen automatically and it’ll be paid in the same way as your previous payments of Housing Benefit.

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.