Universal Credit problems

Your Universal Credit payment is late

It usually takes five weeks to get your first Universal Credit payment. After that, you should get your payment on the same date every month.

If your payment is late, log in to your online account and leave a message for your work coach in your journal.

Sign in to your account at GOV.UK

Ask them to check whether anything is missing from your claim that might be causing the delay.

If this is your first payment of Universal Credit you can ask for an advance payment. This is a loan that you will have to repay from your future Universal Credit payments.

You can ask for an advance even if your payment isn’t late.

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You’ve been paid the wrong amount of Universal Credit

The Universal Credit helpline

If you need help with your claim, call the Universal Credit helpline free on:

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (closed on bank and public holidays). Calls are free.

The helpline is very busy because of the current coronavirus crisis. So it’s best to use your online account if you can.

The amount of Universal Credit you get can change from month to month, and it’s hard to work out exactly how much you’re going to get.

Get a general idea of what your payment will be on the Citizens Advice website

If there’s been a mistake with your Universal Credit payment you need to call the helpline or log in to your online account and leave a message for your work coach in your journal. Ask them to explain the amount to you.

Sign in to your account at GOV.UK

Provide evidence, if you can, to show why you think they’ve made a mistake. This might include:

  • bank statements or payslips
  • invoices from your childcare provider
  • proof of your rent.

If you still think the payment is wrong, you can take it further.

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You’ve been turned down for Universal Credit

Your household earnings are too high

If your earnings – and your partner’s if you’re making a joint claim – are high enough to mean you get no Universal Credit in a month, your claim will be closed.

This might be, for example, because you lost your job but got your final wages after you submitted your claim for Universal Credit.

If your earnings are likely to fall, restart your claim as soon as possible. This is to make sure you don’t miss out on any future payments.

Restart your claim by signing in to your Universal Credit account at GOV.UK

You have ‘no recourse to public funds’

If your immigration status means you have ‘no recourse to public funds’ you won’t be able to get Universal Credit.

If you’ve been working and paying National Insurance contributions, you might be able to claim new style Jobseeker’s Allowance or New Style Employment and Support Allowance instead.

Find out whether you qualify using the calculator on the Policy in Practice website

If you haven’t paid enough National Insurance contributions to qualify, contact your local authority to ask about foodbanks and other local welfare assistance.

Find your local council on the GOV.UK website

You want to challenge the decision

If you disagree with the decision to reject your claim for Universal Credit, you can ask for it to be looked at again – and then appeal.

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You’re worse off on Universal Credit

If you’ve moved to Universal Credit from any of the benefits it’s replacing, such as Working Tax Credit or Housing Benefit, it’s possible you have less income than before. Or you might not qualify at all.

This could be, for example, if you live with someone and your joint income and savings mean you don’t qualify.

For this reason, it’s important to check carefully before making a claim for Universal Credit.

If you’ve already made a claim for Universal Credit and this has happened to you, ask for an explanation through your online account. If you disagree with the findings, you can challenge the decision.

When you’ve moved to Universal Credit, you can’t go back to your old benefits.

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Your Universal Credit doesn’t cover your outgoings

If your Universal Credit payment doesn’t cover your outgoings, you’ll need to act quickly to avoid getting into debt.

Make sure you’ve made an up-to-date budget of all your income and outgoings.

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Check you’re getting everything you’re entitled to – for example, free school meals and help with your Council Tax.

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Reduce your outgoings

If you’ve lost income as a result of coronavirus, you might be able to temporarily reduce your outgoings. For example, with payment holidays on loans and credit cards, or payment deferrals on your insurance premiums.

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Your Universal Credit doesn’t cover your rent or mortgage

You pay rent

If you pay rent to a local authority, council or housing association, you’ll get your full rent as part of your Universal Credit payment.

However, the amount you get will be reduced by:

  • 14% for one spare bedroom
  • 25% for two or more spare bedrooms.

If you rent privately, your housing costs are based on the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) for your area. For example, if you’re single and have no dependent children – the LHA will be based on the cost of renting a one bedroom flat locally.

If you’re going to struggle to pay your rent as a result of a shortfall in the amount you get versus the amount you have to pay, you can apply to your local council for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Find out more about Discretionary Housing Payments at GOV.UK

You have a mortgage

The help you get with your mortgage is called Support for Mortgage Interest. It’s a loan you’ll have to pay back when you sell the property.

You can only get Support for Mortgage Interest after you’ve been claiming Universal Credit for 39 weeks.

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If your income has been affected by coronavirus and you’re struggling to keep up with your mortgage repayments, you can apply for a payment holiday.

Other sources of help

Find your local welfare scheme

If you need help with heating, fuel or food bills, or have an emergency expense, you can see if your local welfare scheme can help.

In England, this scheme is run by your local council.

Find your local council on the GOV.UK website

The other countries in the United Kingdom run their own schemes.

England

Find your local welfare assistance scheme on the Child Poverty Action Group 

Scotland

Find out more about the Scottish Welfare Fund

Wales

In Wales, find out more about the Discretionary Assistance Fund

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, find out more about extra financial support at nidirect

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If you need help with personal budgeting, ask at the Jobcentre and they’ll be able to tell you where face-to-face support is available.

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If you’re struggling to pay off existing debts, it’s important to get advice from a debt advice charity straight away.

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Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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