These advance payments need to be applied for, they will usually not come through automatically. The advance can be applied through an online account or through a Jobcentre Plus work coach. The application requires a few details from the claimant.
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The claimant will need to detail why they need the advance, they’ll need to verify your identity and bank details will need to be confirmed.
So long as everything is in order, the claimant will usually find out the same day if an advance will be given.
While the advance application process is relatively simple, there are instances where requests can be refused.
Advances may be refused if the claimant has not had their identity thoroughly checked at the Jobcentre, if they have enough money to last until the first Universal Credit payment comes through, if they live with parents, relatives or friends or if the claimant has access to any final earnings, redundancy payments or accessible savings.
So long as all these details are acceptable and the application is done correctly the advance should be given.
These advances are in the form of a loan from the government, meaning that they will need to be paid back one way or another.
If an advance is given, the repayments start from the very first Universal Credit payment.
Deductions are made directly from the payment, which means that the actual Universal Credit income will likely be lower than expected for some time.
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The claimant has up to 12 months to pay back the loan and there is no interest applicable. The claimant will only pay back what they borrowed.
If the repayments become problematic for the claimant they may be able to delay them for up to three months but this is only allowed in exceptional circumstances.
So long as the systems in place work as intended, the repayments could be completed within the 12 month timeframe with few issues.
However, should circumstances change the government do have procedures in place to ensure they get their money back.
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Claimants are required to pay advances back even if they stop receiving Universal Credit. Even though the advance is from the government and is aimed to be supportive, it is not a loan that will be waived off after a certain amount of time has passed like student loans.
The claimant will have little say in how the repayments are made. Even if the claimant moves from Universal Credit to some other form of benefit, the deductions will still usually continue directly from the benefit payments.
Those who come off benefits or Universal Credit entirely will be required to contact the DWP debt management contact centre to arrange repayments.
In these instances, the claimants should receive a letter from the state which details the total amount still owed and ht government warns that this letter should not be ignored.
If arrangements aren’t made, the DWP can take certain steps to ensure they recover the amount owed. If the claimant is working, DWP can contact their employer directly to arrange for deductions to be made directly from earnings and wages.
In more drastic circumstances, they may even contact an independent debt collection agency to collect the money from the claimant. From here, the claimant will need to deal directly with the independent debt collector to organise repayments.
An application for an advance should be considered thoroughly before a request is put through. The government can provide support where possible but the advance could follow people’s lives for a very long time.
This could be exacerbated by the fact that claimants could even receive more than one advance before any Universal Credit payment is received.
To ensure it is the right decision for the claimant, the government has a number of services in place to help evaluate the circumstances. There is a Universal Credit helpline which can provide advice and information on advances. The DWP debt management contact centre also have a direct line which can help with all things related to repayments. This could be particularly useful for claimants who no longer receive any benefits and therefore the repayments must be made through other means.
This DWP helpline can guide the claimant on how to get repayments sorted via direct debit setups or through cheque and cash payments.
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