Hello and welcome to September's UC blog! In this edition, I'd like to answer a question that many UC claimants ask: when should I report a change of circumstances?

In a nutshell, a 'change of circumstances' refers to when your living situation changes in a way that it may affect the amount of Universal Credit you're entitled to each month. This can include things like you moving in with a partner or beginning a new job. If these changes occur, you must inform the DWP as soon as you can.

Below, I've put together a list, explaining the changes that could impact your Universal Credit payments and should be reported to the DWP:

  • Your work situation has changed

    Getting a new job

    It's important to remember that there isn't a fixed number of working hours you need to meet to remain on Universal Credit. If you begin a new job and start to earn more, your Universal Credit payments could be reduced; however, it may also reduce the amount of work-related activity you will need to do.

    Once you have notified the DWP about your new job, you won't need to report any changes to your earnings under that employer. If you receive a pay rise or are paid for overtime, the DWP will be informed of this by HMRC.

    You should also tell the DWP if you have started a voluntary (unpaid) position.

    Losing your job

    If you lose your job, your Universal Credit payments may increase, but you may also be expected to increase your time spent looking for work. It's also important to know that your payments could be suspended or stopped completely if you left your job without good reason.

    You're self-employed

    If you're self-employed you'll need to report your income and outgoings each month.

  • There has been a change to your finances


    You need to tell the DWP if you or your partner have changed your bank details. This can include opening a new separate or joint bank account.


    Your Universal Credit payments will decrease if your savings surpass £6000, and will stop completely if your savings exceed £16,000.

    You should inform the DWP if your savings reach either of these figures.


    If you or your partner have claimed a new benefit (even if you haven't received your first payment), your Universal Credit entitlement could be reduced.

    Alternatively, if you or your partner has stopped receiving another benefit, your Universal Credit payments could be increased.

    One-off or unexpected payments

    If you receive a one-off payment, such as inheritance money or compensation or any income that isn't from your employment, you should report it to the DWP; it may not have any effect on your entitlement, but it is wise to report it regardless.


  • Your living situation has changed

    Changes to your home

    You should tell the DWP if:

    • Your rent increases or decreases
    • Someone moves into your home
    • Someone moves out of your home
    • Someone in your household has gone to prison


    You move home

    Moving home could cause a change to your payments; moving to a higher-rent property will likely cause your payments to increase, while a lower-rent property may cause your payments to decrease.

    If you move to a new address, you need to inform the Jobcentre as well as the DWP, so they will be able to reach you by post. Depending on where you move to, you may need to go to a different Jobcentre and have a new work coach.

    You are going to spend time outside of the UK

    If you are going to spend some time outside of the UK, you Universal Credit payments can continue for up to one month. You will still be expected to complete your work-related activities during this time.


  • There has been a change to your relationship status

    You have moved in with your partner

    When you report this to the DWP, your existing claim will end and the DWP will automatically set up a joint claim for you and your partner. You will continue to receive payments on the same date of each month, as you did before you moved.

    If both you and your partner received Universal Credit before you moved in together, your joint claim will use the payment date of whichever claim ends sooner.

    If you or your partner received a 'legacy' benefit

    If one of you received one or more of the benefits Universal Credit is replacing, those payments will stop when you move in together. The benefits being replaced are:

    • Housing Benefit
    • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
    • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
    • Child Tax Credit
    • Working Tax Credit
    • Income Support

    Instead, you will be set up with a joint Universal Credit claim and receive UC payments as a couple.

    You and your partner split up

    Your Universal Credit claim will continue to be paid on the same day of the month. However, your payments after the split will be for a single person.

    If you still live with your ex-partner, you'll need to tell the DWP that you have 'separate households' even though you share an address. You should advise on how you're no longer living as a couple (i.e. if you're cooking separately, have separate finances and don't spend time together) and why you're still living together now you're relationship has ended (such as if you can't afford to move out.)

    You have separated and have children

    You should tell the DWP who is responsible for any children you have with your ex-partner. This will be which of you your children normally live with. If your children live with both you and your ex-partner equally, or you can't agree who should claim, the DWP will make their own decision.


  • There are changes regarding your children

    It's important to know that the term 'child' refers to anyone aged 16 or under, or someone aged 20 or under who is in full-time, non-advanced education (such as school or college).

    You have or adopt a child

    You should inform the DWP if you're expecting a child, or if you have adopted or fostered one recently; these could cause changes to your payments and the work-related activity you're expected to do.

    Usually, you will receive an increase in your payments for a maximum of two children. You often won't receive extra money for a third child, unless they were born before 6 April 2017. If your third child was born on or after 6 April 2017 you should still tell the DWP.

    You should also inform the DWP if your child or children have any chronic illnesses or disabilities.

    If you pay for childcare due to work

    You should tell the DWP what you pay for childcare each month, as you can claim back some of these costs. You can report them using your online account. If you don't have an online account you'll need to call the Universal Credit helpline:

    Universal Credit helpline (live service)
    Telephone: 0800 328 9344
    Textphone: 0800 328 1344
    Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
    Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm

    Calls to these numbers are free.

    This does only apply if you need childcare because you are in employment.

    Changes to your child/children's situation

    You should inform the DWP if your child or children does any of the following:

    • leave full-time education
    • leave home
    • go into local authority care
    • go to prison
  • Someone in your household starts - or stops - education

     You start full-time education

    In this case, your Universal Credit payments will stop unless you meet at least one of the criteria below:

    • You're eligible for Pension Credit and you live with a partner who's below Pension Credit age
    • You receive Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment and the DWP has confirmed you have 'limited capability for work'
    • You are responsible for a child under 16 (or under 20 if they're also in full-time education or training)
    • You live with your partner, who also receives Universal Credit and is not in full-time education
    • You're returning to a course after taking time off because of illness or caring responsibilities
    • You're a foster parent and have a child placed with you
    • You're aged under 21, not in higher education, and you don't have parental support*

    *In this case, not having parental support means you can't live with your parents (e.g. your relationship with them has broken down) or they have passed away.


    You live with your partner and they begin full-time education

    You can continue to receive Universal Credit payments if you and your partner live together and:

    • They are entitled to Universal Credit while studying
    • One of you is responsible for a child or is a foster parent


    Someone else in your household enters - or leaves - education

    You should tell the DWP if your children or anyone else in your household starts or stop full-time education or training.

    If the person is aged under 19, you should tell the DWP if they start or stop a part-time advanced education course, like teacher training.

  • You or your partner reach Pension Credit age

    Pension Credit age is currently 65 in the UK.

    When you reach this age, the DWP would not expect you to look or prepare for work as part of your Universal Credit claim.

    Pension Credit often provides higher payments than Universal Credit; if you or your partner is eligible, use this Pension Credit calculator to see if you should apply.


  • There are changes to your health

    Illness or injury

    You should tell the DWP if you experience any of the following:

    • You get ill
    • You're injured in a way that makes it harder to look for work (e.g have a broken arm)
    • You or your partner goes into or leaves hospital
    • You or your partner goes into or leaves a care home
    • You have a pregnancy-related illness
    • You have begun cancer treatment which involves chemotherapy or radiotherapy
    • You have a terminal illness


    If you're ill for more than 7 days

    You must get need to get a doctor's note and send it to the DWP.

    If you're ill for more than 14 days

    This would be classed as a long-term illness, and it may change the work-related activity you'll be expected to do. To provide proof of your illnes to the DWP, you may need to complete a questionnaire about your health and go to a medical assessment. As this can take some time, it's worth asking if your work coach can suspend your work-related activities during this process.

    If you’re self employed and temporarily sick

    If your illness or injury affects your ability to work and earn, speak to the DWP and ask that them not to treat you as not being in ‘gainful self employment’ while you’re ill. This should cause your Universal Credit payments to be higher, as the DWP will be unable to apply the 'minimum income floor' to your claim.


  • Someone in your household dies

    You will need to inform the DWP about the death of:

    • Your partner
    • Anyone aged 18 or above who was living with you
    • Your child or children
    • Someone you were caring for

    To report the death, you can use the Tell Us Once service; this will allow government departments to register the death quickly, with you only having to report it once.

    You can also speak to your work coach and ask for a break from your work-related activities.

  • There are changes to your immigration status

    If you're a citizen of the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein

    If you lose your ‘right to reside’ in the UK, then you will not longer be eligible for Universal Credit and your payments will be stopped. 

    However, you can re-apply if you have ‘settled status’. This is normally granted if you have lived in the UK for 5 years or longer and, if you're granted settled status, you won’t need to show the DWP that you have the right to reside.

    To get settled status, you need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme before 31st December 2020. You can get help in doing this from our Advice Team and the charity, Europia.

    If you are not granted settled status, you can appeal this decision.

    If you're not from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein

    Any change to your immigration status may affect your Universal Credit claim.

    If there is a change to your immigration status and you claim Universal Credit, you should contact the DWP to discuss the change.

If you experience any of these changes, then you should contact the DWP as soon as you can, either through your online journal or by calling the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 9344. Failing to report a change could result in a Universal Credit over payment, which you'll have to pay back, or your claim could be suspended, so it is vital you report a change as soon as possible.

Get in touch

I hope this blog has given you a good idea of what changes could impact your Universal Credit claim. If you would like more advice on reporting a change in your circumstances, or anything else regarding Universal Credit, do not hesitate to call or make an appointment. You can click here to contact me, call 0161 448 4200 or message me on Facebook. You can also pop into Southway's office and ask to make an appointment.