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Managing your money on Universal Credit

Alternative payment arrangements if you are having problems budgeting on Universal Credit (UC).

You may be able to request an advance payment of UC while you're waiting for a claim to be processed.

If you need the rent part of your UC to be paid direct to your landlord

If you are in arrears with your rent (by 2 months or more) or you are struggling to pay the full amount of rent, you can request that the rent part of UC be paid to your landlord.

You must usually provide proof of your arrears, and a breakdown of how these have built up, as well as contact details for your landlord. If you are getting help from an adviser (such as CAB) ask for their help with this.

If you cannot manage on monthly payments

You may be able to ask for payment to be made twice a month or (more rarely) 4 times a month.

If this arrangement is agreed, payments of your rent will also automatically be made direct to your landlord.

If you need the single monthly UC payment to be split into 2 payments

This can only apply if you are a member of couple and it would help you to avoid hardship for the payment to be split between you.

This is meant to apply in exceptional circumstances, including where your partner is being paid the UC but is unable to manage, or is refusing to share the money or mismanaging your finances.

If this arrangement is agreed, payments of your rent will also automatically be made direct to your landlord.

Reviewing alternative payment arrangements

Any alternative payment arrangement will be reviewed after a time, as the aim, will always be to get you to the point where you can manage without this support.

If you're refused an alternative payment arrangement

Seek advice. It's not possible to appeal against such a decision but UC will review their decision if further information is provided.

One-off loans for essential items - budgeting advances

If you need help to get some essential items, you may be able to claim a loan called a budgeting advance:

  • a one-off item, such as furniture, a fridge or a cooker
  • unexpected expenses (like large bills that you didn't expect)
  • expenses for starting a new job or keeping a job, (like work clothes or tools)
  • repairs to your home, maintenance or security
  • travelling expenses
  • maternity expenses
  • funeral expenses
  • moving costs or rent deposit
  • clothing

Budgeting advances are repayable from your future payments of UC. You'll need to have paid off any previous award and the Jobcentre will need to be sure that you are able to repay what you borrow.

You can get a budgeting advance if you have been on UC for at least 6 months (or if you or your partner have been on Income Support, Income-Based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income-Related employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit for at least 6 months)

But where the advance is to help you to get or keep a job, you don't have to have been on benefit for 6 months, you can apply right away.

You'll not get the help if you've earned over a set amount in the 6 months prior to your claim for a budgeting advance. The limit is £2,600 for single claimants and £3,600 for couples.

How much is a budgeting advance

The minimum payment you can get is £100. The maximum payment depends upon your circumstances:

  • single person without children - £348
  • couple without children - £464
  • single or couple responsible for any children or young people - £812

If you have got any capital in excess of £1,000 your budgeting advance will be reduced.

The loans are usually repayable over a period of 12 months, but it may be possible to extend this to18 months in exceptional circumstances.

If you are refused a budgeting advance, seek advice. There's no right of appeal but you can ask the DWP to review its decision.

Other money problems

It may be possible to arrange direct deductions from your UC payments if you have arrears of other essential bills, such as gas and electricity, Council Tax or Magistrates' Court fines.

These deductions could help you to manage your money and also to stop court action against you, but it's important to make sure you'll have enough UC left to live on.

If you're having financial problems because of debts, seek advice from your local CAB, or ask your work coach to refer you for further help.