As soon as the coronavirus pandemic hit, the importance of Universal Credit soared.
For those of us relying on it to keep a roof over their head during these often-desperate times, the Department of Work and Pensions have outlined ten important changes we need to be told about.
While people may claim every month, they not be fully up to date with the latest guidance. It can mean some claimants are unknowingly breaking the rules.
Of course, failure to do some could classed as benefit fraud – should you be getting benefits you're not entitled to.
Under the Social Security Administration Act, the DWP is authorised to collect information from a number of places to ensure everything is in order.
These includes banks – and officials are permitted access.
However, this is tightly controlled. It would probably only be used if you were under investigation for fraud.
The Gov.uk website offers further information – and outlines how bank details can be used.
It states: “They are authorised to obtain certain information from specified people, including employers, contractors, the self-employed, pension providers and licensing authorities.
“They carry identity cards that confirm they act on behalf of the department.
“This code of practice explains the powers of Authorised Officers, the extent of their powers, and the responsibilities and rights of the people they request information from.”
To avoid mix-ups, anyone claiming Universal Credit have been handed some fresh guidance regarding their payments.
Claimants could have their cash stopped if they fail to tell the Department of Work and Pensions about any of ten changes that have now been made.
Here are the 10 changes you need to report in order for the Government to keep giving you the right amount each month.
The ten changes you need to tell the DWP about
- finding or finishing a job
- having a child
- moving in with your partner
- starting to care for a child or disabled person
- moving to a new address
- changing your bank details
- your rent going up or down
- changes to your health condition
- becoming too ill to work or meet your work coach
- changes to your earnings (only if you’re self-employed)
The six most common examples of benefit fraud are:
- failing to report that you're working
- failing to report a change of address
- failing to report the full amount of your income, savings or capital
- claiming benefit as a single person when you live with a partner
- claiming benefit for an address you don't live at
- claiming benefit when you have no right to
If your circumstances change, you must let the Department of Work and Pensions know by logging in to your Universal Credit account.
You can do so by visiting the Government's website here.
What happens if you’re suspected of benefit fraud
You’ll be contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Service and Personnel and Veterans Agency or your local authority if you’re suspected of fraud.
Your benefit may be stopped while you’re investigated. You’ll get a letter telling you about this if it happens.
You may be visited by Fraud Investigation Officers (FIOs) or asked to attend an interview to talk about your claim – this is called an ‘interview under caution’.
FIOs will gather facts about your case and decide whether to take further action.
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