Universal Credit: Claimants must do this ‘straight away’ to avoid missing out on payments

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Universal Credit is claimed by millions of people across the country who may have found themselves out of work, or are on a low income. It is overseen and administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who ensure those entitled to claim get the correct money at the right time. To be eligible for Universal Credit, Britons must be over 18 – although there are some exceptions for 16 and 17 year olds.

They must also be under state pension age, and have less than £16,000 in savings between themselves and any partner.

Claimants can expect to receive the money to which they are entitled once every month.

Universal Credit has provided invaluable support to many people, and particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some have described the payment as a “lifeline”.

The government has therefore warned there is one action Britons should be taking “straight away” to avoid missing out on money.

Payments could be reduced or stopped altogether if a person fails to update any changes of circumstances in their claim. 

The government states that updating a change of circumstances means the DWP can ensure claimants get the right amount each month.

When claiming Universal Credit for the first time, people enter into a ‘Claimant Commitment’ meaning they have to carry out certain activities.

Reporting a change in circumstances is one of them, and therefore is breaking the commitment if not actioned. 

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There are various changes to circumstances the DWP would like claimants to inform them of.

Important changes include moving to a new address, changing bank details or having a child.

A change is likely to mean claimants will have their payment shifted – up or down – to suit their new circumstances.

However, it is not a lengthy process to inform the DWP of any changes – meaning this should be easy for claimants to do.

Logging in to the Universal Credit portal online, those who claim the benefit can enter the necessary changes to their circumstances.

This will automatically update a claim and inform the DWP of the alteration. 

But, for those who have had their payment stopped or reduced, though, it is not the end of the line in terms of the help and support they can receive.

Claimants can ask for a hardship payment if they have received a sanction which means they cannot pay for basic needs such as their rent or food.

To apply for this hardship payment, Britons will need to:

  • be over the age of 18
  • demonstrate they have tried to find the money from elsewhere
  • show they have attempted to spend money only on essential needs

A hardship payment can be requested by calling the Universal Credit helpline, details of which can be found on the government website. 

However, this is a payment which must ultimately be repaid, and therefore may affect a person’s Universal Credit going forward.

Repayments will be taken out of subsequent Universal Credit instalments, meaning the sum is likely to be reduced for a set period of time until the loan is cleared. 

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