Universal credit payments are received through bank accounts, credit unions or building society accounts by claimants. Through this article, we aim to learn whether or not the DWP can check the bank account activity of Universal Credit claimants. In addition to this, we will also explore, what other checks the DWP conducts with regards to Universal Credit claims and the personal documents that they may have access to. We will discuss also the key reasons why the DWP conducts a check on claimants’ bank records as well as their personal information.

Can Universal Credit Check Your Bank?

Yes, Universal Credit or the Department for Work and Pensions can check your bank account for transactions that are being conducted, gain access to your bank statement and monitor any financial transactions you undertake if they suspect you of benefit fraud.

Even though the DWP does not regularly monitor their claimants’ bank accounts or financial transactions, once they suspect someone of benefit fraud, they are likely to gather as much evidence as possible in order to confirm the financial position of the claimant on the basis of which they were able to get their Universal Credit application approved; so that any unreported income or savings can be checked.

Sometimes, the DWP checks your bank account if someone has reported you to them with suspicion of undeclared income or savings and they need to confirm the claim through the gathering evidence. Other times, they may conduct a random check to keep surveillance on benefit fraud cases. 

However, it is considered normal for Universal Credit to check your bank for account activity and confirmation of income and savings. The first check is conducted when someone applies for a Universal Credit claim and the authorities need to confirm the information provided by the applicant. However, during the course of your claim, the DWP may conduct a check on a random basis. In the case of a change in income, savings or even your bank account details, you must inform and update the DWP.

During the pandemic, there were nearly 6 million people in the UK claiming Universal Credit. The DWP claims that during 2020/21, nearly £6 billion were overpaid due to benefit fraud. This is one of the main reasons why the authorities find it eminent to maintain a thorough check on their claimants’ official records. One of the ways to do this is by checking their bank account transactions.

If the authorities are unable to find the information or evidence that they are looking for by checking a claimant’s bank account, they may gain access to or demand a declaration of the following documents to confirm the actual amount of savings or capital as compared to the amount declared by a claimant:

  • building society or Post Office books or statements
  • investment and share certificates
  • a professional property valuation (other than the property you live in)
  • National Savings Certificates
  • annuity or trust fund documents
  • Premium Bonds

If the checking of one’s bank account or any other financial transactions confirm benefit fraud to the DWP, the claimant may not only be sanctioned by the authorities and lose their benefit claim but can also be faced with a fine or even a prison sentence.

Why Does Universal Credit Check Bank Accounts?

The main reason why the DWP finds it necessary to track the bank account activity of Universal Credit claimants is to trace evidence of undeclared income which bears a direct impact on the payment of their benefits.

This may include income from any of the following sources:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (new style)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (new style)
  • Pension Income
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • State benefits that aren’t replaced by Universal Credit

For every £1 earned through any of the above means, £1 will be reduced from your Universal Credit payments.

In addition to this, Universal Credit can ask for the bank statements of claimants due to the following reasons:

  • in order to confirm the identity of the claimant(s) as per their Universal Credit application
  • to assess the financial situation of the claimant regarding their income and savings 
  • to confirm whether their declaration of finances is accurate or if a change in circumstances has gone unreported

Can Universal Credit Check Personal Documents?

Yes, in addition to your bank statement, Universal Credit can check other personal documents as well, especially when a claimant applies for a Universal Credit claim. The purpose of checking personal documents is to gather and confirm your information regarding the following:

  • identification details from your passport or driving license
  • postcode
  • NI number
  • bank account, building society or credit union account number 
  • monthly rental payments
  • your landlord’s address 
  • details of your savings and capital investments
  • details of your income and benefits
  • details of any child care payments made by you
  • child benefit reference numbers (if any)

What Other Checks Can Universal Credit Do?

If the DWP suspects a claimant of benefit fraud, they can check their information by contacting various private and public organisations. These include the following:

  • building societies 
  • credit providers 
  • credit card companies 
  • credit reference agencies 
  • education providers 
  • government agencies including HMRC
  • insurance companies 
  • money transmission companies 
  • telecoms companies including mobile telephone providers 
  • the Student Loans Company 
  • water, gas and electricity providers 

Conclusion:

We’ve come to learn through the discussion in this article that the DWP is authorised to check the bank account status of Universal Credit claimants to confirm whether the information provided by them regarding their income and savings is correct or not. The reason why they find it necessary to do so is when the authorities have reason to suspect a claimant of benefit fraud by falsely declaring information regarding their financial status.

FAQs: Can Universal Credit Check Your Bank?

How much money can you have in the bank on Universal Credit?

If you and your partner (in the case of a joint claim) have equal to or less than £6,000 in savings, you can continue to claim Universal Credit. The amount of your benefit claim will decrease as your savings increase and if you have more than £16,000 as savings, you will not be able to claim Universal Credit.

Can DWP check your bank account without permission?

Yes, the DWP can check your bank account without your permission if you are claiming benefits. They usually do this to verify your identity and claim when you apply for a benefit and can also conduct random checks over the course of time especially if they suspect a claimant of benefit fraud.

How long does it take to verify identity for Universal Credit?

If all your documentation is updated and correct, it may only take 15 minutes for your identity to be verified during the Universal Credit application process. However, it may take 5 weeks or more for you to receive your first payment. 

How do I claim Universal Credit without an ID?

You cannot claim Universal Credit without providing confirmation of your identity through personal documents. However, if you need to provide a photo ID, you can use a copy of your birth certificate or national insurance number. You may also be asked to visit your job centre in person, answer security questions and provide documents as evidence that can confirm your ID.

What evidence is needed for Universal Credit?

You will need evidence of your income, savings, health conditions, expenses and mentionable living conditions on the basis of which you have applied for a Universal Credit claim. It is best to keep copies of the required documents during your interview.

References:

Can Universal Credit check my savings? – Building Better Opportunities

DWP will check your bank account for these 7 things looking for benefit fraud – Wales Online

What documents do I need to provide to support my claim? | Sandwell Council

How we check your claim for fraud – Preston City Council

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