TIP: Universal Credit is a monthly benefit. If you are going to struggle until you receive your first payment you can request an Advance Payment (which you will need to repay). If you think you will be able to budget better with more frequent payments ask you Work Coach about the Alternative Payment Arrangements.
Understanding Assessment Periods
Universal Credit is a monthly benefit – assessed in chunks of a month called Assessment Periods.
When your Assessment Period starts and ends is decided by the date you made your claim.
For instance if you made your claim on 5th May, your Assessment Period would run from 5th of one month to 4th of the next. If you made your claim on 28th August, your Assessment Period would run from 28th of one month to 27th of the next.
Your Universal Credit payments are calculated based on your (and your partner’s) circumstances at the end of each Assessment Period.
The calculation will take into account any wages actually received during the Assessment Period and your personal circumstances on the date of the assessment – picking up on any changes in circumstances notified during that Monthly Assessment Period.
You will usually receive your payment of Universal Credit seven days after the end of the Assessment Period. Where this falls at a weekend or bank holiday, you will receive the payment on the last working day before this.
Stella’s Assessment Period runs from 4th of one month to 3rd of the the next so she will normally receive her Universal Credit payment on 10th of each month. In October, the 10th is a Saturday, so she will receive her payment on Friday 9th instead.
For more information on how your Universal Credit is paid – see Getting Paid.
As well as affecting when your Universal Credit is assessed and paid, Assessment Periods also affect how a change in your circumstances affect your award, for instance:
- If you move to a new property with a higher rent part way through an Assessment Period, your next Universal Credit payment – for the Assessment Period in which you moved – will be calculated based on your new rent (so long as you have told the DWP about the change in that Assessment Period).
- On the other hand, if you move to a property with a lower rent, that would mean your next Universal Credit payment would be based on your new, lower rent for the whole of the Assessment Period in which you move. It’ll be the same if you leave a property and move somewhere where you are not liable for any rent – in which case no housing costs will be included in the Universal Credit for the Assessment Period in which you moved.
Stella’s Assessment Period runs from 4th of one month to 3rd of the the next. She has a baby on 28th July, meaning an increase in UC entitlement. Assuming she notifies the DWP before the end of the Assessment Period in which the baby was born (i.e. by the 3rd August), her UC award will be increased for the whole of the Assessment Period in which the change occurred, so the Child Element will be included from 4th July.
Example: Ellie’s Assessment Period runs from 10th of one month to the 9th of the next. On the 5th December she moves out of her rented flat to live with her Mum, meaning no rental liability and so no Housing Cost Element for the whole of the Assessment Period in which this change occurred. She will get no help with rent for the Monthly Assessment Period that started on 10th November.
For more information on how changes affect your Universal Credit award see How will a change affect my award?
Watch this video for an overview of Monthly Assessment Periods…