If you’ve got approval for Universal Credit, it will take five weeks before you receive your first payment. This is what you can do in the meantime to get ready for them.
When are Payments Made and How?
Standard Universal Credit payments are made monthly into your linked banking account, payments are more regular in Scotland. HMRC checks your past month’s earnings to calculate your payments and once the payment is processed, you’ll receive the funds.
You’ll receive your monthly payments on the same day of the month as your very first payment.
Don’t Have an Account to Receive Payments?
To receive Universal Credits, you’ll need to have a bank account or alternative banking.
Not everyone can get access to a high street bank account due to various restrictions that are in place, for example, poor credit history, no proof of address or no regular monthly income. This, however, then leaves a large proportion of citizens unbanked and without a bank account to be able to manage their money and finances.
If you can’t open a bank account with a high street bank, there are alternatives available to you.
Suits Me is an alternative banking solution, available to anyone currently residing in the UK.
An account is open within 10 minutes (without the need for credit checks or proof of address checks) with instant access to your account number and sort-code which you can then give to The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to be able to start receiving your Universal Credits.
With a Suits Me e-money current account, you’ll also gain access to online banking, mobile banking and a contactless Mastercard® debit card to be able to safely and securely manage your money and finances.
What Systems are in Place to Help me Budget?
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have different financial support options in place that, amongst other things, will help you manage your budget if you’re struggling. Their Alternative Payment Arrangements (APA) mean you can let them do some of the legwork for you as well as tailoring payments to you.
An APA can allow some of your payments to go directly to your landlord, meaning you don’t have to worry about getting rent to them. If you used to receive your benefits weekly before Universal Credit was introduced you can ask for more frequent payments if you find budgeting easier that way. Payments can also be split in two between couples.
Through your Suits Me online banking account, you can use the envelope system to ensure there’s always enough money from your Universal Credit payments if automatically separated and kept for specific things such as bill payments, food and other expenses.
Why Have my Payment Amounts Changed?
The DWP can change the amount you receive in Universal Credit Payments each month depending on your individual situation.
Your job can affect the amount you will receive. Whilst having a job doesn’t mean you’ll come off Universal Credit straight away, as you start to earn more your payments will decrease by 63p for every £1 you earn. You can work as many hours as you like, this will not affect your payments unless your wages change too.
Deductions sometimes take place if the DWP need to pay for something on your behalf. They can take away some of your Universal Credit before they pay you to pay for things like overdue bills and advance payments. They can take up to 30% of your payments at once.
With ‘last resort deductions’ they can go over 30% when you’re at risk of getting behind on utility payments or eviction. If you think they’re taking too much and not leaving you enough to live on, a written letter or online request can be made asking them to take fewer deductions.
Can’t Wait 5 Weeks?
If you’re in real, urgent need of your Universal Credit payment, a wait of over a month can be a daunting proposal. If necessary, you can request an advance from your online account or by asking your Jobcentre plus work coach. You’ll be asked for:
- The reason why you need an advance
- Confirmation of your ID
- Your bank details (where you want the advance paid into)
You will start paying your advance after your first payment without added interest and you’ve got a year to pay it back.
If an advance won’t cut it, your council might provide other benefits. To see if your local authority can help you check out their website or Advice Local.
What if my Payments aren’t Enough?
Local authorities are always there if you need an extra helping hand. If you need help with rent, for example, you can apply for discretionary housing payments to supplement your rent payments (this changes from council to council).
Through the DWP website, you can also apply for extra help if you have children, such as free school meals and maternity grants, help with housing costs, such as cold weather payments and basic BT internet, and help with legal costs.
The government has a list of other financial support that you can also request a budget advance of, with more details on their website.