Benefits payments and appearing for work search related interviews are based on certain schedules provided by your local Job Centre.  The aim of this article is to explain what happens to claimants’ Universal Credit payments in case they go on a holiday out of the UK. We will also discuss how long someone can stay on holiday while continuing to receive their benefit claims; as well as analyse different situations that can potentially impact your benefits claims.

What Happens If You Go On Holiday On Universal Credit?

You can be on holiday and continue claiming Universal Credit for up to a month. This time duration can increase to 2 months in case a claimant loses their partner, child or another close relative to death while being away from the UK. However, it is essential that in order to claim their Universal Credit payments, the claimant abides by the terms agreed to in the Claimant Commitment. 

This means that even though the claimant is on holiday if they have agreed to certain work search-related activities such as updating their resume or continuing active search for a job, they should be able to keep up with these commitments in order to continue receiving UC payments. 

However, this will not apply in case the claimant is assigned to the Limited Capability For Work-Related Activity Group for Universal Credit. In such a case, your UC claim is based on a health issue that restricts your work-related capability and so you are not required to look for a job while on Universal Credit

According to the DWP, it is essential for UC claimants to be in the UK when their claim is submitted and the Claimant Commitment is drawn up for mutual agreement. If a claimant is not present in the UK to accept their Claimant Commitment, their claim for Universal Credit will be cancelled and they will have to re-apply for the benefit on their return to the UK.

In the current covid 19 scenario where there have been sporadic travel restrictions around the world, claimants will have to inform the DWP in case they are unable to return home after an agreed period of one month due to travel restrictions; either by the UK or the country that the claimants is currently in. Such cases are reviewed by the DEP on a case to case basis.

However, not all benefits are affected by the fact that you are out of the UK temporarily. 

Benefits that are affected by going abroad include the following:  

  • Attendance Allowance  
  • Bereavement Benefits 
  • Carer’s Allowance 
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefits
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Maternity Allowance
  • Over 80s Pension
  • Pension Credit
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)  
  • Reduced Earnings Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • State Retirement Pension
  • Unemployability Supplement
  • Universal Credit  
  • War Pensions
  • Widow’s Benefits

How Long Can You Go On Holiday Without Affecting Benefits?

If you are claiming Attendance Allowance (AA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) you can go on a holiday for a maximum period of 13 weeks if you want to continue claiming benefits. 

In case you are claiming Carer’s Allowance, you can be away from home for four weeks in a six-month period to claim your benefit. If you are travelling with the person you care for, this time period can be extended.

If you are claiming Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, you can be on holiday for four weeks and still continueto claim your payment; however, in the case of State Pension, there is no restriction on the time period as long as you are in European Economic Area country.

If you are travelling for medical treatment, this may extend to 26 weeks. In either case, you need to inform the Department For Work And Pension about your absence from the UK and also share a forwarding address (if one is available).

You may not be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance if you are travelling away from the UK.

What Happens If You Buy A House On Universal Credit?

You can buy a house if you are claiming Universal Credit. However, you must be on benefits for at least 39 weeks without a break in between; also you should not be in receipt of any of the below forms on incomes:

  • Earnings from your job (whether you are employed or self-employed)
  • A tax refund
  • Statutory Adoption Pay
  • Statutory Maternity Pay
  • Statutory Paternity Pay
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Statutory Shared Parental Pay

This is also applicable in case you intend to purchase a house through a  joint ownership scheme. In this case, you will also be able to claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing Cost element for your monthly rental or mortgage payments. 

Additionally, you can claim Universal Credit to make payments related to your home; such as:

  • the cost of purchasing the property
  • home insurance
  • repairs and maintenance

This is irrespective of whether you choose to purchase your house on a cash basis, through mortgage payments or by taking a bank loan.

You may also qualify for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) if you are on Universal Credit and plan to buy a house. SMI is a loan that helps you make mortgage payments or repay loans regarding repairs and maintenance of your house and can cover mortgage payments of up to £200,000.

Can Stay At Home Mums Get Universal Credit?

Yes, stay at home mums can claim Universal Credit. To qualify for Universal Credit, claimants must be able to fulfil the below eligibility criteria:

  • aged between 18 (in some cases it may be 16 or 17) and state pension age
  • unemployed or on low income
  • between the claimant and their partner, total savings are less than £6,000
  • experiencing high costs for child care
  • suffering from a disability or health condition
  • caring for someone else

The amount of Universal Credit that an individual receives depends on their personal circumstances and income (if any). For instance, someone who is single and younger than 25 years of age will be eligible for Universal Credit amounting to around £257 per month. Meanwhile, this amount will rise to around £509 for someone who is living with a partner and either one of them or both of them are above the age of 25.

Does A Gift Of Money Affect Your Benefits?

No, a one time gift of money or small amounts of it at varying intervals will not affect your benefits. Additionally, the amount of money that you may receive from friends, family or charitable sources are not included in the means test for benefits.

However, should you incur regular/periodic payments from friends, family or charity, these will be added under the “savings” section for your benefit claim. This is applicable if you receive large amounts of gift money and your total savings exceed £6,000.

Monetary gifts in the form of an annuity are considered as an income and will bear an impact on your benefits claim. However, voluntary payments from a former partner or parent of a child are not considered a gift of money.

What Are Means-Tested Benefits?

Your income and capital need to be below a certain threshold to qualify you for means-tested benefits. Each benefit has its own criteria of assessment.

Below is a list of income-based benefits that are affected by your income, savings, assets and investments:

  • Council Tax Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Tax Credits (Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit)
  • Universal Credit

How Much Can I Claim With Universal Credit?

The basic rate for Universal Credit (without top-ups for housing and childcare) can be classified as follows:

  • If you are single and under 25, you can claim £257.33 a month
  • If you are single and 25 or over, you can claim £324.84 a month
  • If you are living with a partner and both of you are under 25, you can claim £403.93 a month
  • If you are living with a partner and one or both of you are over 25, you can claim  £509.91 a month

Who Is Eligible For Universal Credit?

To qualify for Universal Credit, claimants must be able to fulfil the below eligibility criteria:

  • aged between 18 (in some cases it may be 16 or 17) and state pension age
  • unemployed or on low income
  • between the claimant and their partner, total savings are less than £6,000
  • experiencing high costs for child care
  • suffering from a disability or health condition
  • caring for someone else

The amount of Universal Credit that an individual receives depends on their personal circumstances and income (if any). For instance, someone who is single and younger than 25 years of age will be eligible for Universal Credit amounting to around £257 per month. Meanwhile, this amount will rise to around £509 for someone who is living with a partner and either one of them or both of them are above the age of 25.

Conclusion:

If you are on Universal Credit and planning a holiday, you may be able to continue to do so uninterruptedly for a month. The DWP also takes into consideration circumstances such as the loss of a close relative, spouse or child due to which their stay out of the UK is extended. In such situations, claimants can continue receiving UC payments for a period of up to 2 months. However, in both cases, claimants are expected to continue abiding by the terms that they have agreed to in the Claimant Commitment, in order to avoid benefits sanctions in the furute.

FAQs: What Happens If You Go On Holiday On Universal Credit?

Do you have to tell Universal Credit if you go on holiday?

Yes, you must inform the DWP if you plan to go on holiday and must do this prior to making any formal bookings. You will also have to confirm to them that you will keep up with the conditions agreed to in your Claimant Commitment.

Can you take a holiday while on Universal Credit?

Yes, you can take a holiday while on Universal Credit. If you plan to be in the UK during the holiday, there is no time constraint unless you have a work search related interview scheduled with your work coach. If you plan to travel outside the UK for your holiday, it should not last more than amonth.

How long can I stay on Universal Credit?

You can continue staying on Universal Credit even if you find a job; although your payments might reduce as your income increases. Until your income is sufficient enough to bring you out of the low-income category, you can continue staying on Universal Credit.

How long can I stay abroad without losing my benefits?

You can stay abroad for one month without losing your benefits, but you must inform the DWP prior to leaving the country. The DWP also takes into consideration circumstances such as the loss of a close relative, spouse or child due to which their stay out of the UK is extended. In such situations, claimants can continue receiving UC payments for a period of up to 2 months.

How long can you go on holiday for on benefits?

If you are claiming Attendance Allowance (AA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) you can go on a holiday for a maximum period of 13 weeks if you want to continue claiming benefits. If you are claiming Pension Credit, Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, you can be on holiday for four weeks.

References:

DWP explains if you can go on holiday while on Universal Credit – Liverpool Echo

Claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad – GOV.UK

Going abroad | nidirect

Benefits abroad | Independent Age

Can You Claim Benefits If You Own A House?.

Universal Credit (UC): How much will I get? I’m a homeowner – Turn2us

Universal Credit and rented housing: a guide for landlords – GOV.UK

Understanding Universal Credit – How earnings affect Universal Credit

What will affect your Universal Credit payments | nidirect

How-your-benefits-are-means-tested/

Can You Claim Benefits If You Own A House?.

Can I be a stay at home mum and claim Universal Credit?

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