Universal Credit pays a monthly income which will be dependent on the claimant’s circumstances. First time claimants however will face a delay which could be difficult to handle if there is limited income in the household.
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Thankfully, the government can provide people with an advance payment to cover their bills while waiting for the first proper payment.
Advances can be applied for by:
- Speaking with a Jobcentre Plus work coach
- Utilising an online account
- Calling the Universal Credit helpline
The amount advanced can vary but at the most, it will equal the claimants first estimates payment amount.
Claimants will need to provide certain information to receive an advance and the government detail that claimants will need to do the following:
- Explain why they need the advance
- Verify their identity
- Provide appropriate bank details for the advance
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While advances should help with short term problems it should be remembered that they are a long term commitment.
Advances must be paid back and they have been known to create troubling debt problems for claimants.
The repayments will come out of future Universal Credit income and they could last for several months.
Some organisations, such as Citizens Advice, have called for the advance payment system to be changed due to the perceived issues.
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Advances can be problematic even if the claimant comes off Universal Credit entirely.
They need to be repaid to the state, regardless of the claimants working arrangements.
If a claimant moves from Universal Credit to another benefit, the deductions will usually continue from the new payment until it is eventually paid off.
If the claimant moves benefits, they will receive a letter from the government informing them of how much they owe in total.
They will be asked to contact the DWP Debt Management Contact Centre to arrange repayments.
Ignoring this letter or avoiding repayments entirely is unadvisable.
The DWP can take steps to recover the amount owed, which can involve the claimant’s employer.
Employers can be contacted by the DWP and arrangements can be made to deduct money from earnings.
On top of this, an independent debt collection agency can be utilised by the state to collect the owed sums.
While this can all sound worrying, the DWP Debt Management office can be contacted to come to an affordable agreement.
They can help with:
- Setting up monthly repayments by direct debit
- Paying-in slips for cheque or cash payments.
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