How universal credit is paid

How universal credit is paid

Updated 29 July 2019

Assessment periods

Universal credit is paid monthly in arrears. Each calendar month is called an assessment period.

Your first assessment period for universal credit starts the day you claim. You will receive your first payment a week after this first assessment period has ended. This means you will have just over 5 weeks to wait for your first payment.

You will get future payments on the same date each month. If your payment date is on the 29, 30 or 31 of the month, you will be paid on the last day of the month.

For example: Margaret claimed universal credit on the 15 May her assessment period begins on that date but she will not receive her first payment until 22 June. She will receive future payments on the 22nd of each month.

Your personal circumstances will be assessed each month to work out the amount of universal credit you will get the following month.

Twice monthly payments
As part of the new social security powers in Scotland, you now have a choice of how you are paid universal credit. It can be paid twice a month or monthly, and the housing element can be paid directly to you or your landlord.

You will be offered the new choice through your universal credit online account following your first payment. See Scottish Choices.

Advance payments
If you don’t have enough money to live on while you wait for your first payment you might be able to get an advance payment.

This payment is a loan and you need to pay it back over a 12 month period. You must show that you are in financial need to get the payment.

The maximum advance is what you’ll get in your monthly universal credit award. You will need to repay the advance from your future universal credit payments.

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

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


Changes in your circumstances 
Changes in your circumstances during an assessment period may change how much you’ll receive in the following assessment period.

These changes can include:

  • starting or leaving work
  • moving home
  • your rent going up or down
  • having a baby or a child leaving your household

A change of circumstances takes effect from the beginning of the assessment period in which it occurs. This can result in an increase or decrease of universal credit for that whole assessment period. Here are some examples:

Example 1:
You have a baby one day before the end of your assessment period. The child element for the baby will be included in your universal credit award for the whole of that assessment period.

Example 2:
Your son leaves home one day before the end of your assessment period. You will lose the child element for the whole of that assessment period. If your son had left a few days later, at the start of the next assessment period, you would have received the full monthly allowance for him for that assessment period.

Example 3:
Your entitlement to universal credit ends four weeks into your assessment period because you earn extra income. You will receive no universal credit for the whole month.

It is your responsibility to report a change of circumstance on time. If you receive an overpayment of at least £65.01, as a result of not reporting a change, you could be fined £50 or prosecuted by the DWP.

How Universal Credit is Paid in Scotland

For more information call

The Lone Parent Helpline on 0808 801 0323

Universal credit helpline on 0800 328 5644


Go to for more information on starting a new claim, managing your claim, and universal credit FAQ.

Download our universal credit guide

Posted in Information & Advice, News, News, News, Universal Credit, Welfare Reform.


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