How is universal credit paid?

Last updated: 29/04/2021

Universal credit is paid in arrears. The amount you get is based on your circumstances in the month before you get your payment. You will receive your first payment of universal credit into your bank account 5 weeks after you claim. This is your payment date. You will then get payments on the same date of the month but can ask for payments to be made twice per month.

If your payment date is on the 29th, 30th or 31st of a month, you will be paid on the last day of the month.

Twice monthly payments

In Scotland, you have a choice on how you are paid universal credit. It can be paid twice a month or monthly. You will be offered the choice through your universal credit online account following your first payment.

See more details of the Scottish Government Choices.

Related information

Universal credit helpline: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Advance payments

If you don’t have enough money to live on while you wait for your first payment of universal credit you can ask for an advance payment. This is a loan you need to pay back, over a 24-month period, from future universal credit payments. You must show that you are in financial need to get this advance.

The maximum advance you can get is your monthly estimated universal credit amount.

You should request an advance at your universal credit interview or by calling the free universal credit helpline.


Housing costs direct to landlords

You can ask that your housing costs are paid directly to your landlord. You can request this on your online account after your first payment. The DWP will contact your landlord to arrange this.

If the housing cost element in your universal credit award is less than your full rent, then you must continue paying the difference to your landlord yourself.

The DWP will leave a message in your online journal to let you know that this has been set up. It is important that you keep paying your rent until you have confirmation of this from the DWP.


Change of circumstances

Changes in your circumstances may alter your monthly universal credit payment.

These changes can include:

  • Starting or leaving work
  • Moving home
  • Your rent going up or down
  • Having a baby

A change of circumstances takes effect from the beginning of the month in which it occurs. This can result in an increase or decrease of universal credit for you.

It is your responsibility to report a change of circumstance on time, but it may benefit you to bring forward or delay changes where possible.