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Check if a change affects your Universal Credit

This advice applies to England

You'll need to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about changes to your work, money or family life. These are called 'changes of circumstances'.

Changes can affect how much Universal Credit you get and what work-related activities you need to do in exchange for your Universal Credit payment. This page tells you about the main changes to report, but there can be others. If you're not sure if a change will make a difference, it's always best to report it.

If your payment will go up, you can ask for an advance payment if you need the extra money before your next payment date.

Coronavirus - if you need to quarantine after returning from abroad

Tell your work coach as soon as you know you need to quarantine. If you don’t, you might be sanctioned for not doing the work-related activities in your claimant commitment.

You can contact your work coach by sending a message to them in your online account. If you don’t have an online account and don’t know your work coach’s contact details, call the Universal Credit helpline. 

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 328 5644

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

Video relay - if you use British Sign Language (BSL).

You can find out how to use video relay on YouTube.

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

 

Telling the DWP about a change

If you have an online account, tell the DWP in the 'Report a change' section. You can also call the Universal Credit helpline, but this is likely to take longer as you might have to wait for someone to answer. If you don’t have an online account, you should call the helpline.

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 328 5644

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

Video relay - if you use British Sign Language (BSL).

You can find out how to use video relay on YouTube.

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

Reporting changes on time

Once you know about a change that might affect your Universal Credit, tell the DWP as soon as you can.

The change might increase your payment and you might miss out on extra money if you tell the DWP late - especially if you wait until after the end of the assessment period.

You should still tell the DWP if you think the change might reduce your payment - you won't save money by reporting it later. If you tell the DWP late you could get paid too much and have to pay your benefits back to the DWP. This is called an overpayment - check how the DWP deals with overpayments.

Changes you need to report

Tell the DWP even about small things - it's always better to report something if you're not sure.

If your change affects your ability to work or look for work, you might need to ask to change your claimant commitment. For example, you should ask about changing your claimant commitment if changes to your childcare mean you have less time each week to look for work.

When you report a change you should also send the DWP any other information they ask for. For example, they might ask for a letter from your landlord if you say your rent's changed. If you don't send the extra information the DWP ask for your Universal Credit could be stopped.

Jobs and volunteering

You should tell the DWP if you leave a job or get a new one - even if it's voluntary work and you don't get paid.

Earning more could reduce your Universal Credit, but it might also reduce what work-related activity you need to do.

There isn't a fixed number of working hours that mean you'll stop getting Universal Credit. Find out more about getting a job or pay increase on Universal Credit.

If you lose a job your Universal Credit can increase, but you might need to spend more time looking for work. Your Universal Credit could also be stopped or reduced if you left the job without a good reason - this is called a 'sanction'. Check what you can do if you get a sanction.

When you're employed you don't need to tell the DWP about changes in your earnings - for example if you get a pay rise or do more hours. The DWP will get this information from HMRC.

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

Money, savings and benefit changes

Tell the DWP if you or your partner:

  • change your bank details
  • claim any new benefits (even if they're not being paid yet) - this can reduce your Universal Credit payments
  • stop getting a benefit - this can change your Universal Credit payments
  • get a one-off payment - for example if you inherit some money or are paid compensation
  • get new income that isn't from work - not everything is taken into account, but it's worth telling the DWP just in case

If you have more than £6,000 in savings your Universal Credit payments will start to go down.

If you have more than £16,000 in savings you'll no longer be eligible for Universal Credit.

Find out more about how much Universal Credit you'll get.

Changes to do with where you live

Tell the DWP if:

  • your rent goes up or down - this can change how much Universal Credit you're paid for housing
  • you move home
  • someone moves out of your home
  • someone moves into your home - for example if they rent a room
  • you or someone in your household goes to prison

You should also report any time you'll be spending any time outside the UK. Your Universal Credit claim can continue for up to a month, but you'll still need to complete your work-related activities. If you can't, your payment might be stopped or reduced - called a 'sanction'.

If you move home

Your Universal Credit payments might change if your rent has gone up or down - check how much Universal Credit you'll get. Your next payment will be based on your new address, even if you were still at your old address for part of that month.

Always tell the Jobcentre you've moved - they'll need your new address. You might also need to go to a different Jobcentre and have a new work coach.

Changes to do with your relationship

Y​ou'll need to tell the DWP if you move in with or split up with your partner.

You move in with your partner

If you were both getting Universal Credit, you’ll  both need to report that you’ve moved in with a partner. 

You won't need to start a new Universal Credit claim but you’ll need to link your account to your partner’s. You can do this when you log in to your Universal Credit account. If you can’t see how to do this or you don’t have an online account, contact your work coach. 

If you were getting Universal Credit but your partner wasn’t, they’ll need to open an account and link it to yours - this turns it into a joint claim. You’ll keep getting your payments on the same day each month.

Find out more about linking accounts and starting a Universal Credit claim.

If one of you was getting Pension Credit or any of the benefits Universal Credit replaces, those payments will stop. 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

The rules are complicated. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help before you move in with your partner.

You'll get paid a different amount of Universal Credit as a couple - check how much Universal Credit you'll get.

If you split up with your partner

Your Universal Credit claim will continue. Your next Universal Credit payment will be on the same day of the month but will be for a single person. This changes how much Universal Credit you get.

You should also tell the DWP about any other changes as a result of splitting up - like changes to address.

Tell the DWP who's responsible for any children

The person responsible for any children will be whoever the child normally lives with. If the child normally lives with more than one person, or you can't agree who should claim, the DWP will make their own decision.

If the DWP make their own decision they'll base it on where the child usually lives and who makes day-to-day decisions.

If you're still living with your ex-partner

You should still report that you've split up - you should still be able to change to separate Universal Credit claims.

You'll need to tell the DWP that you have 'separate households' even though you share an address. Explain how you're no longer living as a couple - for example if you're cooking separately, have separate finances and don't spend time together.

The DWP might also ask why you're still living together - for example if you can't afford to move out.

Changes to do with your children

Make sure the DWP knows how many children you're responsible for. Tell them if you have a baby, adopt or start fostering a child - this can increase your Universal Credit payment or change what work-related activities you need to do.

A child is anyone under 16, or someone under 20 who's in full-time, non-advanced education, for example at school or college.

You can get extra money for 1 or 2 children. You won’t usually get 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 - in some cases you might still get extra money. It's worth checking how much Universal Credit you'll get.

You should tell the DWP if any of your children:

  • are disabled
  • leave full-time education
  • leave home
  • go into local authority care
  • go to prison

If a child leaves home it's worth them checking if they're eligible for Universal Credit themselves.

If you're working, you should report 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

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 328 5644

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

Video relay - if you use British Sign Language (BSL).

You can find out how to use video relay on YouTube.

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

 

Find out more about getting childcare payments under Universal Credit.

Starting or stopping education

Tell the DWP if you, your partner or any of your children start or stop full-time education or training.

For someone under 19 you should also tell them about starting or stopping a part-time advanced education course, such as teacher training.

If you start full-time education you'll stop getting Universal Credit unless at least one of these exceptions applies:

  • you're old enough to get Pension Credit and you live with a partner who's below Pension Credit age
  • you get Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment and the DWP have said you have 'limited capability for work'
  • you look after a child under 16, or under 20 if they're also in full-time education or training
  • you're waiting to return 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 under 21 (or are 21 and were under 21 when your course started), not in higher education, and you don't have parental support

Not having parental support means your parents have died or you can't live with them. For example, you wouldn't have parental support if your relationship has broken down or living with them would put your health at risk.

If you live with your partner

You can also keep getting Universal Credit during full-time education if you live with your partner and they:

  • aren't in full-time education
  • are also in full-time education, but they're entitled to Universal Credit while studying
  • are also in full-time education, and one of you is responsible for a child or is a foster parent

You or your partner reach State Pension age

You can check your State Pension age on GOV.UK.

Your Universal Credit payments are calculated each month - this is known as an ‘assessment period’. Your payments will stop at the end of your current assessment period and you should claim Pension Credit if:

  • you don’t have a partner and you reach State Pension age

  • you’ve got a partner and both of you have reached State Pension age

If you claim Pension Credit, your Universal Credit and Pension Credit might overlap and you'll get both at the same time. This is because you’ll get Pension Credit from the date you reached State Pension age and your Universal Credit will still be paid until the end of your current assessment period.

Check if you can get Pension Credit.

If you’ve got a partner and only one of you has reached State Pension age, you’ll stay on Universal Credit. Whoever has reached State Pension age should be in the 'no work-related activity group'. This means the person who has reached State Pension age won't need to look for work or prepare for work as part of the Universal Credit claim.

Health changes

Tell the DWP if you:

  • get ill
  • are injured in a way that makes it harder to look for work
  • go into or leave hospital - or your partner does
  • go into or leave a care home - or your partner does
  • have an illness caused by pregnancy
  • start treatment for cancer with chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • have a terminal illness

If you're ill for more than 7 days you'll need to get a fit note and add it to your online Universal Credit account.

Contact the Universal Credit helpline if you can’t add your fit note to your account. 

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 328 5644

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

Video relay - if you use British Sign Language (BSL).

You can find out how to use video relay on YouTube.

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

If you're ill for more than 14 days this counts as a long-term illness. You won't need to work if you can show you have 'limited capability for work'. You might need to fill in a questionnaire about your health and go to a medical assessment. This can take a while, so ask your work coach to suspend your work-related activities in the meantime.

Ask to change your claimant commitment if health problems mean you can't do all your work activities. It's worth doing even for a small change, for example if regular doctor's appointments mean you have 2 hours fewer a week to look for work.

If you’re self employed and temporarily sick

If you’re too sick to work and it affects your ability to make a profit, call the DWP and ask them to treat you as not being in ‘gainful self employment’ while you’re ill.  

If you're not in gainful self-employment, your Universal Credit payment should be higher. This is because the DWP can't apply the 'minimum income floor'. This is what the DWP expect you to earn each month - they use it to work out your payment.

Find out more about the minimum income floor and how it affects your payment.

If someone you're close to dies

You'll need to tell the DWP about the death of:

  • your partner
  • your child - if you're claiming Universal Credit because you're under 18 and responsible for a child
  • someone you were caring for
  • anyone over 18 and living with you

You can use the Tell Us Once service on GOV.UK to tell government departments about a death quickly and easily. You can also ask your work coach for a break from job hunting if a member of your family has died.

Changes to your immigration status

If you're from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein

If you’ve lost your right to reside, you won't be able to get Universal Credit. You might have lost your right to reside because you:

  • split up from your partner and had your right to reside because of them
  • became a student and didn’t get medical insurance
  • lost your job and have been looking for a new job for more than 6 months

To keep getting Universal Credit you need to show you have either settled status or pre-settled status and a right to reside.

Your right to reside depends on things like your work, family and personal situation. You can check if you have a right to reside.

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

A change to your immigration status might also affect your Universal Credit.

This is a complicated area, so it's best to contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you think a change to your immigration status might affect your Universal Credit.

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