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Universal Credit: How it Works

Universal Credit is a popular source of support for many people. Particularly, in recent times due to financial repercussions of the pandemic. This article is the second in a two-part guide on the Universal Credit system and how it works. If you didn’t read the first article, you can access it here, this discusses what Universal Credit is, the eligibility criteria for it, and how to make a claim. Below, you will find all the relevant information around Universal Credit payments and how they work.


Your first payment

After applying, it usually takes around five weeks to get your first Universal Credit payment. However, you can apply for an advance if you need help with your living costs. A portion of the advance will be taken out of your future Universal Credit payments. You can arrange a repayment plan which is interest-free. 

The wait before your first payment is made up of a one month assessment period and up to seven days for the payment to reach your account.


Making a Universal Credit claim

Below is an example of making a Universal Credit claim:

If you made a new Universal Credit claim on the 1st of September then your assessment period would last until the 30th of September. This is because it takes one month to assess your eligibility. It will then take seven days for the payment to reach your account. You would get paid on the 7th of October and on the 7th of each month after that.


Universal Credit payment dates

After the first payment, you’ll be paid on the same date of every month. If your payment date is on a weekend or a bank holiday you will usually be paid on the working day before.

If you live in Scotland and normally get paid on the 3rd of the month, you’ll still be paid on Monday the 3rd of August. You will receive a monthly statement that tells you how much money you are going to get.


Universal Credit payments if you live in Scotland

If you live in Scotland, you can get paid once or twice a month, at your request. If you’re making a new claim, you’ll get a notification asking how often you would like to be paid. You will receive this after your first payment.

If you are already claiming Universal Credit and have not received a notification, you can speak to your work coach about receiving two payments per month. 

When you’re paid twice a month your first payment will be for one full month. You’ll get the first half of your second months payment a month after this. The second half will be paid fifteen days later. This means there will be approximately a month and a half between your first payment and the full amount for your second month. After this, you’ll be paid twice a month.

Below is an example of this:

If you get your first payment on the 14th of December, this payment is for one full month.

If you’re paid twice a month, you get half of your second payment on the 14th of January and the other half on the 29th of January.

You will then be paid on the 14th and 29th of each month after that.


If you live with a partner:

Providing you and your partner both claim Universal Credit, you’ll get one payment each month for your household.

If you live in Scotland and you’ve chosen to be paid twice monthly, you’ll receive two payments each month for your household.

Phone the Universal Credit helpline if you’re worried about getting access to this money.


Getting support for your finances

If you’d like some help with budgeting your Universal Credit income and managing your finances, join our workshop hosted by finance expert Sam Leigh on 16th February.

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