“I am about to apply for Universal Credit for the first time, but have been told that there is a six week wait before the first payment. I’m worried that I won’t be able to pay my bills. Is the wait right, and is there anything I can do?”
After applying for Universal Credit (UC), there’s usually a five to six week wait before your first payment, which is explained during the application process. Although you can’t be paid faster, there are things you can do to help tide you over.
As part of the claim process, you’ll usually attend an interview at the Jobcentre Plus. At the interview ask if you can apply for an “advance payment” - this is a loan that will be deducted from your future benefits, typically over 6 months.
You’ll need to show how much money you need for essential bills like food and housing, and explain why the loan will protect you from serious financial difficulty - like being unable to pay your rent.
Alternatively, you can apply for an advance payment through the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723.
It’s best to apply as early as possible in your claim, as you may be turned down otherwise.
If you are refused an advance payment, you can ask the Jobcentre Plus for a mandatory reconsideration. Emergency assistance may be available if you are still turned down - Jobcentre Plus or Citizens Advice can inform of you of your next steps.
If you do get into rent arrears, the Jobcentre Plus can arrange to pay some of your UC directly to your landlord. These arrangements are known as Alternative Payment Arrangements (APA).
Jobcentre Plus can also make a different kind of deduction, known as a Third Party Deduction, from your Universal Credit and pay it direct to your landlord. Your landlord will normally receive payment from this deduction every 28 days. The payment will be 28 days in arrears.
The difference between the Third Party Deduction and an APA is that Third Party Deductions from UC only cover rent arrears, not ongoing rent. The only way to get your ongoing rent paid direct to your landlord is an APA. There are also different rules about when Jobcentre Plus can make Third Party Deductions