Advice Column: Universal Credit

Thursday 3rd August 2017

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column we focus on Universal Credit.

 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 this right, and is there anything I can do?

After applying for Universal Credit, there’s usually a five or 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. Alternatively, you can apply for an advance payment through the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723.

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.

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 reconsideration. Emergency assistance may be available if you are still turned down – Jobcentre Plus should inform of you of your next steps.

For more information and advice go to or telephone Citizens Advice Exeter on 03444 111 444.

 Look out for our column next week when we focus on Employment and Support Allowance.

 The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit