UNIVERSAL Credit claimants must report certain changes to the DWP if they want to keep receiving their benefit.
Those on Universal Credit get extra cash depending on earnings, family and where they live.
The benefit is paid monthly and is designed to help you with your living costs.
Instead of receiving smaller amounts of different benefits, you receive one monthly payment under Universal Credit – or twice monthly for some people in Scotland.
Almost all new claims for benefits will automatically be put onto Universal Credit.
And from next year, anyone who is on Universal Credit and working 12 hours or more does not need to attend regular appointments at the Job Centre.
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This is currently set at nine hours.
But to get all this, you need to give notice of certain changes to your circumstances.
You should report them to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or risk missing out altogether.
What counts as a change in circumstances?
As Universal Credit is calculated based on your specific circumstances, you must let the DWP know of anything changes that might affect your payments.
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It is a criminal offence not to update them because you could end up being paid more than you're owed.
This is what the DWP consider to be a change in circumstances:
- Finding or finishing a job, even if it's volunteer work, or changes to your earnings if you're self-employed
- Having a baby, or you adopt or foster a child
- Changes to your living arrangements, such as moving in with your partner, someone in your household goes to prison or your rent changes
- If you split up with your partner
- If you get married or divorced
- If you or your children start or stop full-time education or any training you were undertaking
- You or your partner reach State Pension age
- You have any health changes, such as you're ill or you're admitted to hospital
- If someone you're close to dies, such as your partner, child, someone you were caring for
- Changes to your immigration status
- Changes to your bank details
- Changing your name or gender
- If you're planning to go abroad for any length of time
- 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
- If you or your partner are getting back-pay (sometimes called ‘arrears’) for salary or earnings you’re owed
How do I let the DWP know about a change in circumstance?
You need to let the DWP know as soon as possible about a change in circumstances.
You can do this by sending a message to your work coach via your Universal Credit journal.
There's also a free Universal Credit helpline that you can call. Lines are open between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday.
The number is 0800 328 5644, or you can textphone to 0800 328 1344.
To speak to someone in the Welsh language, call 0800 012 1888.
What happens if I don't tell them?
You may be visited by a Fraud Investigation Officer if you are suspected of taking advantage of the benefit system.
Or you could be asked to attend an interview to talk about your claim, called an "interview under caution".
They are formal interviews and will be recorded, and could be used as part of a criminal investigation against you.
If you have committed or attempted fraud, you will be told to pay back the overpaid money.
You may also be taken to court or asked to pay a penalty of between £350 and £5,000.
Alternatively, your benefits may be reduced or even stopped altogether – this is called a sanction.
Benefits that can be sanctioned include carer's allowance, housing benefit and jobseeker's allowance.
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Some welfare payments can't be sanctioned, like child benefit, state pension and disability living allowance.
Statutory maternity, paternity and sick pay are also excluded from being docked.
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