New to Universal Credit

5. Help with managing your money


If you have made a Universal Credit claim but are unable to manage until your first payment, you may be able to get a Universal Credit advance.

The amount you can borrow will be the same as your first estimated Universal Credit monthly payment.

You will need to pay back your advance a bit at a time from your future Universal Credit payments. You will usually pay your advance back over a 12 month period.

To apply for an advance payment you’ll need to:

  • let the Department for Work and Pensions know why you need the advance
  • provide your bank details so that the money can be paid if an advance is agreed
  • verify your identity – you’ll do this online when you submit your Universal Credit claim, or in the jobcentre during your first interview
  • show that you can pay it back
  • agree to pay it back

You will usually be told if you can get an advance on the same day that you apply for it.

You can apply for an advance payment in your online account. You can also call the Universal Credit helpline or speak to your work coach.

You can only apply for an advance online if you are within your first Universal Credit assessment period. If you are no longer in your first assessment period you should apply by calling the helpline.

Read more about getting a Universal Credit advance

Managing your money

Universal Credit is paid as a single monthly payment. It will usually be up to you to pay your rent and bills for the month using this money.

You may be used to managing your money on a monthly basis, but if not you will need to make sure you can pay all your bills from this single payment. In most cases this will include paying your own rent and other housing costs.

Budgeting support

A range of support services are available to help you budget. You can talk to your work coach about the type of help you might need. Options could include an online service, advice sessions by phone, or face-to-face support.

If you want some help with managing your money, you can use the online Money Manager. This is a digital tool created by the Money Advice Service, which offers personalised money management advice.

Alternative Payment Arrangements

If you are having trouble managing your money whilst on Universal Credit you may be able to use an Alternative Payment Arrangement. These are changes to the way that Universal Credit is paid that can help you to pay your bills and living costs.

Graphic showing the 3 different types of Alternative Payment Arrangements

Alternative Payment Arrangements can be one or more of:

  • Universal Credit housing costs paid straight to your landlord
  • more frequent payments, such as twice a month
  • payments split and paid into 2 bank accounts instead of one

You can ask for an Alternative Payment Arrangement at your new claim interview. If you are already receiving Universal Credit call the helpline or speak to your work coach for more information.

For more details see Universal Credit: help with managing your money