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Universal Credit: What’s needed for an advance payment and how you apply explained

Universal Credit has become the prime focus of many analysts over the last few weeks. As more people apply for the income, certain elements of the service have come under increased scrutiny.

Generally, the claiming process for Universal Credit follows a simple structure.

As it stands, people could be eligible for Universal Credit if they are:

  • On a low income or out of work
  • 18 or over
  • Under state pension age
  • Have less than £16,000 in savings (split between two partners)
  • Living in the UK

READ MORE: Universal Credit coronavirus: ‘Large inefficiency’ highlighted 

Financial stress

Many people may need to apply for Universal Credit as income falters (Image: GETTY)

Coronavirus

Coronavirus has forced the government to take action (Image: EXPRESS)

The application process is reviewed on a case by case basis by JobCentre staff.

The payments themselves can vary and they are based on the claimant’s circumstances.

Additional elements such as raising children can result in higher payments but there are minimum amounts in place.

Traditionally, face to face meetings were part of the assessment process but this has now been halted by Rishi Sunak.

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made many changes to the Universal Credit system in recent weeks.

On top of getting rid of face to face meetings, Mr Sunak has also temporarily abolished the minimum income floor.

Claimants have also been awarded an additional £1,000 for their claims.

These are all positive steps but many experts have called for the state to correct a glaring issue.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit has been massively impacted by coronavirus (Image: EXPRESS)

Currently, there is a five week wait for the first payment to come through.

This was considered unacceptable before coronavirus gripped the UK and now many believe it to be outright dangerous.

There have been reported delays in trying to get through to the Universal Credit department, meaning that this delay could be made even worse for new claimants.

Fortunately, there is one procedure in place that may help rectify this issue.

The government will provide an advanced payment to help those struggling to cover bills or other costs. This advance payment could be as high as the amount of the first official payment. It will need to be requested and the claimant will need to present certain information.

An advance payment can be requested through their online account or through their Jobcentre Plus work coach.

In the application, the claimant will need to:

  • Explain why they need the advance
  • Verify their identity
  • Provide bank account details for the advance

Fortunately, most applicants will find out the same day if they can get an advance. Given the circumstances, it is most likely the case that some leniency will be given during the application process.

It should be noted that advance payments are a loan from the government and will therefore need to be paid back.

However, this too has been tweaked by the government. Originally, advance payments were paid back over the course of 12 months but the state recently changed that to 24 months.

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