Payments to those in receipt of Universal Credit vary from person to person to take into account individual circumstances which affect them. However, what many do not realise is that the slightest error cannot only impact a claimant financially, but cause difficulties later down the line. Therefore, it is important that if a claimant’s circumstances change at any point they inform Department for Work and Pensions as soon as possible.
Reporting any changes in circumstances will likely be part of the agreement made between the claimant and their work coach - known as a 'Claimant Commitment.' It is therefore the claimant’s responsibility to follow this agreement and failing to do so could lead to their Universal Credit being reduced or even stopped.Doing this also ensures that the claimants is receiving the right amount in benefits each month, and new circumstances can sometimes mean they are entitled to extra money, which they will miss out on if they tell the DWP late - particularly if they wait until after the end of the assessment period.
Here is a list of the main factors which could change and recipients would need to report.
One of the most obvious things a claimant must report is their housing situation, this includes moving to a new address, as well as if rent goes up or down.
Claimants are also required to inform the DWP if someone moves into a property or leaves, as this too can affect a claim.
Another aspect of life that can have a significant impact on benefits is a change to employment status, as this can have a big impact on a claim. This includes whether a claimant leaves a job, gets a new one or even if they are doing unpaid voluntary work.
Although earning more through employment can reduce Universal Credit, it can also reduce what work-related activity a claimant has to do.
Claimants should report any changes to personal information, such as a new bank details, new benefits claimed or no longer receiving.
It is also recommended that claimants report changes to their health condition, particularly if they have become too ill to work or visit the Jobcentre. The types of health issues which should be reported are terminal illnesses, chemotherapy or radiotherapy as well as illnesses caused by pregnancy.
Claimants are required to tell the DWP if they move in with or split up with their partner, as these can significantly affect their entitlement. Separating from a partner may also affect other aspects such as changes to an address and whether a claimant remains the primary care-giver of children.
Claimants must inform DWP if they have a baby, adopt or start fostering a child - particularly if they're disabled.
Universal Credit recipients must also report changes to their children's circumstances, such as if they leave full-time education or leave home.