Universal Credit claimants are being warned that they should report certain changes to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or they could be at risk of losing their money.
People who claim these benefits are legally obliged to inform the DWP of certain changes in circumstances, and if deliberately avoided, they could see themselves in court.
Universal Credit is paid out monthly to people who have no or low income by the DWP. However, the DWP asks that the 5.7m recipients of the benefit report any changes in their lives which could affect the amount they get each month.
These circumstances include moving in with a partner, having a baby or reaching pension age. Claimants are obliged by law to report these lifestyle changes, and if they are seen to have not informed the DWP deliberately, it could be seen as committing benefit fraud.
People who do not keep the DWP up to date with the circumstances could have their benefits stopped or reduced. If you do not report a change or a mistake, you might be paid too much which could result in having to pay the money back or result in a £50 penalty.
If you are suspected of committing benefit fraud by not reporting changes in circumstances or giving false information you will be contacted by the DWP and HMRC and your benefits could be stop while you are being investigated. You could also be visited by a Fraud Investigation Officer (FIO) or asked to attend an interview to talk about your claim - this is called an ‘interview under caution’.
The 21 changes Universal Credit claimants must report to DWP
- Changing your name or gender
- Finding or finishing a job, or working different hours
- Your income going up or down
- Starting or stopping education, training or an apprenticeship
- Moving house
- People moving into or out of the place you live (for example your partner, a child or a lodger)
- The death of your partner or someone you live with
- Having a baby
- Starting or stopping caring for someone
- Getting married or divorced
- Starting or ending a civil partnership
- Planning to go abroad for any length of time
- Going into a hospital, a care home or sheltered accommodation
- Any changes to your medical condition or disability
- Changing your doctor
- Changes to your pension, savings, investments or property
- Changes to other money you get (for example student loans or grants, sick pay or money you get from a charity)
- Changes to the benefits you or anyone else in your house gets
- You or your partner getting back-pay (sometimes called ‘arrears’) for salary or earnings you’re owed
- Changes to your immigration status, if you’re not a British citizen
- If you claim Child Benefits you also need to report changes to your child’s circumstances.
How to report changes to the DWP
Who you tell depends on which benefits you get. You’ll need to report your change to more than one organisation if you get more than one benefit.
Report changes using your Universal Credit online account if you have one or contact the Universal Credit helpline.
Call the Pension Service helpline or report changes by post.
Call the Disability Service Centre to report changes if you get Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Tell your local council about changes if you get Housing Benefits.
Report changes using the Child Benefit online service or call or write to the Child Benefit Office.
All other benefits
Call Jobcentre Plus to report changes. You need to have your National Insurance number when you call.