Changes to circumstances such as moving house are essential to be reported in case of benefits claims as they may affect the scale of payments claimants receive from the DWP. Through this blog post, we will explore what is the best time to inform the DWP that a Universal Credit claimant is moving house. In addition to this, we will also discuss whether moving house triggers Universal Credit and the reasons why claimants should inform the DWP of a change in their circumstances.

When Do I Tell Universal Credit I’m Moving House?

You should inform the Department for Work and Pension immediately of a change in circumstances including moving your house if you claim Universal Credit. The fact that you have changed premises or there has been an alteration in your living/housing arrangements can bear a significant impact on the amount of housing element that you claim through Universal Credit. 

You can inform the DWP of such changes through any of the following methods between Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 6 pm :

  • Click on the “Report a change” section if you have an online account with Universal Credit.
  • Place a phone call on the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.
  • Textphone if you are unable to speak or hear at 0800 328 1344.

If you move house, you may be eligible for higher payment due to a change in living or housing conditions. If you do not inform the DWP about this immediately, you may lose the additional benefit you qualify for as they will conduct an assessment towards the end of the ongoing term. 

Similarly, you may be eligible for a lower scale of benefit as a result of moving house. If you inform the DWP in time, they can make timely adjustments to your UC payments. Otherwise, you will be required to pay back the excess amount of benefits claimed at the time of your annual means-test/ assessment. 

In addition to moving house, you must also inform the DWP in case any of the following changes to your current circumstances:

Therefore, you must inform the DWP in case of any of the following situations:

  • your rent increases or decreases
  • you move home (within or outside your previous council)
  • a household member moves out of your home
  • a household member someone moves into your home
  • there is a boarder/lodger in your house 
  • you or someone in your household goes to prison

Why Do I Have To Tell Universal Credit I’m Moving House?

If you are moving in with a partner who is on a Universal Credit claim, both of you may have to apply for a joint claim. Similarly, if a couple split up and they were previously on a joint claim, they will need to apply separately when one of them moves out.

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

These amounts will increase or decrease with a change in your circumstances.

Will Moving House Trigger Universal Credit?

Yes, moving your house will most likely trigger a Universal Credit claim especially if you are already claiming Housing Benefit. The main reason for this trigger is the UK government’s plan to phase out the six legacy benefits and replace them with Universal Credit through a “managed migration” by 2024.

However,  your benefits claim will be affected by your personal circumstances which are categorised as follows:

  • If you are currently receiving Housing Benefit payments and you move to a new council district, you may be asked to transfer to Universal Credit.
  • If you are currently receiving Housing Benefit payments and move house within the same council area, you will be given a choice to continue staying on Housing Benefit or transferring to Universal Credit (if the latter is more beneficial for you).
  • If you are currently on Tax Credit, Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and are seeking a tenancy for the first time, you may be asked to claim Universal Credit.

Conclusion:

The above discussion makes it quite clear that Universal Credit claimants are required to inform the DWP immediately in case of a change in address or living conditions. The reason for this is the fact that a change in residence as well as living conditions, a change in rental payments or the addition (even subtraction in some cases) of a family member will bear an impact on the amount of payment one receives as part of the housing element of Universal Credit. Therefore, the sooner a claimant informs the DWP of a change, the earlier their future UC payments can be altered accordingly.

FAQs: When Do I Tell Universal Credit I’m Moving House?

Do I have to change to Universal Credit if I move?

Yes, if you have been claiming Housing Benefit earlier and you move house, you may be asked to shift to Universal Credit.

Do I have to notify Universal Credit?

Yes, you have to notify Universal Credit of a change in your circumstances, especially income or living conditions. You choose to update your information through your UC online account or by placing a call on the Universal Credit hotline.

How does Universal Credit verify your housing?

A Universal Credit claimant is required to provide proof of their rent liability and the house that they live in so that the DWP can verify their housing for Universal Credit claim approval. 

What happens if you don’t report a change to Universal Credit?

If you don’t report a change to Universal Credit, the DWP will still find out about it at the time of your annual assessment. When this happens, your payments can be reduced or you may lose them completely.

Can I buy a house while on Universal Credit?

Yes, you can buy a house while on Universal Credit. In fact, you can use your UC payments to pay the deposit on the purchase of your house.

References:

Check if a change affects your Universal Credit – Citizens Advice

Check how much Universal Credit you’ll get – Citizens Advice

What happens to your UC housing costs if you move home?

What changes in circumstances might trigger a move to Universal Credit.

Moving to Universal Credit from other benefits – Citizens Advice

Check if a change affects your Universal Credit – Citizens Advice

DWP issues guidance on what triggers natural migration to Universal Credit | Housing Rights

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

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