Renting is changing in Wales on July 15th: Find out more here

How long will it take to get Universal Credit?

You might have to wait a few weeks before you get your first payment of Universal Credit (UC). If you haven’t got enough to live on before your first payment is made, you can apply for an advance payment.


If you are of working age and on a low income because of coronavirus you might be able to apply for Universal Credit (UC). You can usually get a UC advance within a few days if you can’t wait 5 weeks for your first payment.

Most claims for UC are made online. Click here for more details about how to apply and don’t delay in making your claim.

If you are already receiving  UC with an uplift, the uplift has now ended. This means that the amount you receive will be cut by around £20.00 per week.  If you are struggling for money because of this change, you may be eligible for a discretionary assistance fund payment.

If you have applied for UC but are worried about paying your rent in the meantime, use our sample wording to send a letter, email or text to your landlord.

Find out more about what you can claim on the entitledto website.

For more advice on what to do if you are already claiming benefits or how to claim benefits, click here.

How long will I have to wait before my first payment?

It will normally take at least 5 weeks from the date of your claim to get your first payment. This means that it’s best to apply for UC as soon as you think you’ll need it.

Payments are usually made once a month into your bank account and are made in arrears, not in advance.

Any help you get for your rent will be included in these payments.

Advance payments

If you haven’t got enough to live on whilst you are waiting for your first payment, you can apply for an advance payment.

An advance payment is an interest-free loan you pay back in instalments through future UC payments.

It can help with things like:

  • rent
  • gas and electricity bills
  • food.

How much can I get as an advance payment?

An advance payment can be up to 100% of your estimated first payment. It’s best to only ask for what you really need because will have to pay back the advance from your future UC payments. The higher the advance payment, the more that will be deducted from your future UC monthly payments.

If you come off UC, for example because you find a new job, you will still have to pay any advance payment back.

You can also ask for an advance payment if you are waiting for an increase in UC following a change in your circumstances, for example, if you have a new baby or have started a tenancy for the first time.

Use the Money Advice Service budget planner on our website to help you work out how much you need to ask for and have a look at this short video from our friends at Shelter :

How do I ask for an advance payment?

To ask for an advance, you can either:

• apply through your online account (click on the ‘apply for an advance’ button)

• speak to your work coach at the Jobcentre, or

• call the UC helpline on 0800 328 5644 (Welsh language call 0800 328 1744).

What if I need money more often than once a month?

It may sometimes be possible for payments to be made more often, or to be split between both partners in a couple. This is called an alternative payment arrangement.

To ask for an alternative payment arrangement, you can either:

  • speak to your work coach at the Jobcentre
  • make a request in your online journal, or
  • call the UC helpline on 0800 328 5644 (Welsh language call 0800 328 1744).

Can my claim be backdated?

Your claim can be backdated for up to a month if you could have claimed earlier but you were prevented from doing so. For example, because :

• you have a disability which affected your ability to claim (both of you if you are a couple)

• you were too ill to claim (both of you if you are a couple)

• your jobseekers allowance (JSA) or employment support allowance (ESA) had ended, but the DWP did not notify you

• the UC Online system wasn’t working.

Tell your work coach about this when you go for your first interview.

Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline

Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an adviser
email us

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Did you find this helpful?

This page was last updated on: October 11, 2021

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.