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Waiting for a Universal Credit claim to be processed

What to do and where to go if you haven't got any money because you're waiting for Universal Credit (UC).

Waiting for your Universal Credit claim to be paid

You should get your first payment one month and 7 days after you made your claim for Universal Credit.

If you were claiming Income Support, Income-Based JSA, Income-Related ESA or Housing Benefit at the time of your UC claim, these will run on for 2 weeks, but not for the full 5 weeks. If you’re concerned about rent arrears, seek advice.

If you find yourself in financial difficulty while waiting for your claim to be processed, the following may help. 

You can speak to your work coach at the Jobcentre or call the Universal Credit helpline on Monday to Friday from  8am to 6pm:

  • tel: 0800 328 5644
  • textphone 0800 328 1344

Short term benefit advance

This is a repayable advance of benefit which may be available, for instance, if you have applied for benefit but a decision has not yet been made. To get an advance you must have already made a new claim for Universal Credit. Jobcentre Plus cannot make a decision or make a payment right away, but try to make sure that you request a payment within the first 21 days of your claim.

To qualify for the payment the Jobcentre Plus needs to accept that you are in financial need and they must think that you are likely to be entitled to the benefit you have claimed. You'll be asked to repay the advance from future benefits. You should be advised about this when you apply for the payment.

If you are within the first month of your UC claim, you can apply through your online account.

At present, there's no application form to apply for a short-term benefit advance. You can contact Jobcentre Plus by phone to request a payment, tel: 0800 328 5644.

Otherwise contact your work coach or request a payment, tel: 0800 328 5644. 

When you may request an advance payment of UC

If you've only just claimed UC, you may have to wait up to 5 weeks for your first payment

If you have been moved from your previous benefit to UC, you may still have up to 5 weeks to wait for your first payment.

You can also apply for help if your circumstances change and your needs increase but your UC has not yet been increased (for example, you now have a partner but your money is still being paid as if you are single) or if you move from another benefit to UC.

How to apply

If you're within your first Universal Credit assessment period (first month of your claim) you can apply for an advance online through your UC account using the 'apply for an advance' section.

Otherwise speak to your work coach or call the UC helpline. You'll need to attend the Jobcentre to provide identification details and bank details, and if you are a couple you'll need to make a joint application.

How much you can be paid

You may receive a maximum 100% of your estimated UC payment.

Financial need

If you've moved to UC from one of the legacy benefits, you are assumed to be in financial need during the first month of your claim.

Otherwise you will have to show that there is financial need, which is a serious risk of harm to the health or safety of you or any member of your family and the advance payment is the only way of meeting this need. This may be, for instance, if you have no money to pay fuel bills or buy food.

You'll need to explain your financial need to your work coach. Try to list the bills that you cannot meet and explain the impact this will have upon you.

If you're not sure what to do, or you have been refused payment, contact us.

Time limits for claiming advance payments

You'll need to be sure of the date that your claim started. Once you've claimed (and waited for 7 days, in most cases) your claim begins its first assessment period (one month).

If you're claiming for the first time or because of a change of circumstances, you cannot claim in the last 3 working days of the UC assessment period.

If you've been moved over from existing benefits, you can claim an advance payment at any time during the first assessment period.

Seek advice if you're refused payment because of the time limit, as these rules are very new and may be open to challenge.

Repaying UC advances

If you're awarded a payment, it's repayable from when you get your full UC award.

It is not repayable in one go if you:

  • claimed before April 2021 - you usually have 12 months to repay
  • claimed from April 2021 - you usually have 24 months to repay

If the rate of payment causes you financial hardship, it is possible to defer payments for up to 3 months. Seek advice if deductions from your UC for an advance are causing you problems.

Derbyshire Discretionary Fund

The Derbyshire Discretionary Fund provides help to help people during an emergency or crisis situation and to support people to continue to live independently or cope with exceptional pressure when they have no money to help their situation, such as:

  • an emergency cash payment can help people when they cannot pay for food, heating or emergency travel which could lead to an immediate and serious risk to the health and safety of the person or their family
  • an Exceptional Pressure Grant can help people who are on certain benefits and have particular difficulties because they need help to live in the community, ease the exceptional pressure that they and their family are facing or meet certain travelling expenses

Food banks

Food banks are there to help people who are in financial crisis, not just benefit problems, and who cannot get enough to eat. You may need to be referred to your local food bank by your GP, Citizens Advice, a social worker or a local charity. There may be a limit on the number of times you can use the food bank.

There are 23 food banks in Derbyshire. You can find your nearest food bank.

Bills and housing costs


If you think you'll miss essential bill payments while waiting for your claim to be paid, talk to the companies involved, such as energy suppliers, to discuss what you can do. They may be able to offer support such as energy grants or lower tariffs.

If you know the date your Universal Credit claim is going to be paid, you can set up direct debits or standing order to come out of your bank on or after that date. You may need to change the date you usually pay your bills.


Unlike housing benefit, Universal Credit is usually paid to you rather than your landlord. If you're worried about paying your rent while waiting for your claim it's important you talk to your landlord straightaway and let them know you are waiting for the money to be paid.

If you're already in rent arrears talk to job centre staff about setting direct payments to your landlord. This means your rent payments will go straight to them until you can get back on your feet again.

The housing element of your Universal Credit payment may not cover all your housing costs if you have too many bedrooms for your needs or your rent is higher than the amount that you are entitled to.

If you are facing a rent shortfall, talk to your local council about applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment.