This article aims to help readers in answering a common question regarding Universal Credit and bank accounts; whether or not Universal Credit payments be made into someone else’s bank account. To answer this question, we will explore the rules about receiving Universal Credit payments as well as exceptional circumstances that may allow a claimant to receive the payment of their benefits through someone else’s bank account.

Can Universal Credit Be Paid Into Someone Else’s Bank Account?

No, Universal Credit payments cannot be paid into someone else’s bank account other than the claimant unless the payments are intended for a claimant who is incapable of managing a bank account on their own; either due to a disability or health condition. 

If you are applying for Universal Credit for the first time and don’t have a bank account, you can give the bank account details of a friend or family member so that your first payment is not delayed. 

However, this is only a temporary solution. You will need to open up a bank account, update your bank details by accessing your Universal Credit account and replace these details with your bank account number so that you can continue to receive payments in the long run.

Universal Credit payments are made into the claimant’s bank, building society or credit union account by the DWP. Although the authorities will be willing to make an exception if you cannot provide details of any of these for your first benefit payment; you will need to have a personal account to continue receiving Universal Credit payments.

If you are making a joint claim for Universal Credit along with your partner, both of you do not need to have a bank account. Since you will be receiving payments that are intended for a couple and to be used based on mutual agreement, only one of you can give your bank account details to receive Universal Credit payments for both of you.

To open a bank account, you will need to fill out an application and provide proof of your identity. This can be done online, via phone call or by visiting the bank branch in person. However, if someone has earlier been declared bankrupt or they have a record of fraud, they will not be able to open a bank account.

If you have tried to open a bank account and your application was refused, you can apply for the Payment Exception Service to receive Universal Credit payments without a bank account. You will need to explain the reason why you are unable to open a bank account.

Another option is to use your Post Office Card Account to receive your Universal Credit payments without a bank account. However, this service is expected to shut down in November 2022; which means that the alternative to having a bank account is to receive benefits payments without a bank account.

When Can Universal Credit Be Paid Into Someone Else’s Bank Account?

Universal Credit can only be paid into someone else’s bank account under limited circumstances. For instance, if someone is unable to manage their finances they can assign a power of attorney to a close family member in whose bank account their benefits claim can be paid. 

When claimants are incapable of managing their bank account either due to old age or disability, there needs to be a trusted appointee (usually a close family member) who will have to share their bank account details and manage the benefits claim on behalf of the claimant.

In addition to another bank account, below are some options that can be availed by individuals wishing to redirect their benefits claim:

  • Joint Account: This is the simplest form of sharing finances which gives access to a common bank account to both parties; the claimant and the appointee who manages their finances.
  • Standing Order: Through this facility, the claimant can instruct their bank to transfer a certain sum (the amount of their benefits claim) to another bank account periodically.
  • Third-Party Mandate: By assigning another person the authority to one’s bank account, the claimant can indirectly assign someone else to operate their bank account.
  • Permanent Agency: Benefits claimants using a Post Office card account can nominate a family member to gain access to their account if they are unable to do so on their own.

How Can You Use The Payment Exception Service To Claim Universal Credit Payments?

The Payment Exception Service can be used by individuals who do not have a bank account under limited circumstances. These include the following:

  • the claimant cannot open a bank account due to incomplete identification records
  • the claimant is escaping domestic abuse and is not getting their UC payments

If you need help setting up a PES account, you can call the Payment Exception Service

on 0800 015 2902 and get advice on how to proceed. Once your account is set up, you will receive payments through either of the following options:

  • an email with a voucher code
  • an SMS with a voucher code
  • a payment card

Payments can either be collected from PayPoint or the nearest Post Office by providing any of the following documents to prove your identity:

  • valid UK photo or paper driving licence
  • current passport
  • utility bills
  • council tax bill
  • tenancy agreement
  • benefits letter from DWP or your council

If you need to appoint someone else to collect payments on your behalf, they will need to provide your payment card or voucher, proof of your identity as well as proof of their own identity.

That said, receiving Universal Credit payments via the Payment Exception Service is only a short-term solution and claimants will eventually have to open a bank account to continue receiving their benefits payments in the long term.

Conclusion:

The discussion in the article has made it quite clear that even though you may be able to receive Universal Credit payments in someone else’s bank account; you will need your bank account from the second payment onwards so that your benefits payments are not hindered. 

References:

Applying for Universal Credit – Citizens Advice

Alternatives for Universal Credit claimants with limited access to bank accounts – Voices of Stoke

Do I have to have a bank account? – Universal Credit

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